Phoenix city council tells Suns owner to take his arena demands and shove them

Remember last week when the two leading candidates for Phoenix mayor said they didn’t want to spend public money on a new or renovated Suns arena, and I said let’s wait until the Phoenix city council finishes its secret meetings on the arena plans and see what the actual decision-makers have to say about it? Well, the council seems to have finished its arena meetings, or at least have decided it’s had enough talking about it:

The City of Phoenix has suspended talks with the Phoenix Suns over a proposed $450 million renovation of Talking Stick Resort Arena, according to people familiar the City Council’s action Tuesday behind closed doors…

The two sides are reportedly far apart on the terms of the deal…

Councilwoman Kate Gallego said [last week] it wasn’t “in Phoenix’s best interest to invest in an arena.” Councilman Daniel Valenzuela followed Gallego’s statement with his own: “Taxpayers have been expected to foot the bill for sports venues. That practice must stop now.”

According to people familiar with Tuesday’s executive session, Valenzuela called in via phone, but hung up when it was his turn to state his position on the renovation.

Oof, that is cold. But not entirely unwarranted, given that Suns owner Robert Sarver is demanding $250 million in public cash for a building that’s only 25 years old by hinting he’ll “explore other options” if he doesn’t get it.

This seems likely to slam the door on any chances that an arena will get pushed through before current team-friendly mayor Greg Stanton leaves office in 2018, which means Sarver is going to have to make some tough choices on how to play that move threat card once either Gallego or Valenzuela is behind the mayor’s desk. Could this end up being the Arizona equivalent of the Calgary Flames-Naheed Nenshi public faceoff? One can only hope, because that has been the best, especially for unvarnished commentary on how the arena sausages are made.

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12 comments on “Phoenix city council tells Suns owner to take his arena demands and shove them

    1. Sorry, forgot the mayoral election isn’t until later in the year. Stanton has to leave in 2018, though – he can’t wait until he sees if he wins the Congressional seat.

      1. Phoenix resident here. The comments on Phoenix elections and who’s running are accurate. Keep in mind that the Mayor of Phoenix is statutorily a “weak mayor” which means that they essentially preside over the meetings of the eight-member Phoenix City Council and cast a tie-breaking vote if needed. They do have a bully pulpit but no real executive function.

  1. None of the Arizona teams (Coyotes, Diamondbacks and Suns) who want new or even upgraded facilities are getting them. This is just the latest salvo against public financing of sports teams. The fact that Congress would even consider penalizing college sports (see ASU who wants a new arena instead of remaining in Wells Fargo arena for example ) tells you the direction this is headed. Do I think all sports construction will be stopped? No I think there will be a compromise that allows the Raiders Stadium to be grandfathered in as well as projects that start construction before the next fiscal year (New Islanders Arena is a project that comes to mind), but others on the drawing board like the Beaver Stadium renovation @ Penn State or a new Tampa Bay Rays Stadium? Not happening anytime soon.

  2. There has been little talk about it but one of the tax proposal floating around includes elimination of the season ticket deduction.

    1. For college sports only, where ticket costs are disguised as “donations.” I don’t think there’s been any talk of eliminating the business-entertainment deduction for sports tickets.

      1. I agree with you there. But the fact that Season Ticket “donations” are being considered taken away is very significant. Congress has rarely went after schools in an adverse way. One school that would really be hurt is Penn State. They have a “Master Plan” for sports facilities (which is basically a plan to build new or upgrade facilities for every sport except ice hockey (Segula Ice Arena)), you would see that such an elimination will essentially kill many of these new projects/upgrades. This will be interesting.

  3. Could be bad news for Mr Barroway and the Coyotes if they do not get their act together.

    And, their future could include a move to Houston, too.

    1. Houston NHL is interesting. The various incarnations of the Aeros were always decently supported, and Houston is huge. But it seems like they’d be pretty far down the pecking order in a crowded pro and college market.

      1. Hockey is just weird that way: Neither Houston nor SF has managed to keep an NHL team going, despite market sizes that you would have to think would include at least some hockey fans just by pure random chance.

        They’re still probably better hockey markets than Phoenix, though. Not to mention more likely to be habitable in another 20 years. (Well, SF. Unless the Big One hits. Okay, maybe not either of them.)

  4. Details of Phoenix Suns arena deal still cloudy, but its defeat is becoming clearer

  5. Our company keeps season tickets for staff, I wonder if this will change things here at the Glass & Door Company.

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