“Is Phoenix really going to plunk down $150 million on the Suns arena?” asks the headline on yesterday’s Laurie Roberts column in the Arizona Republic. Betteridge’s Law says no, but Roberts says yeah, maybe:
Several city sources tell me there’s a push on to get the deal done by the end of the year.
Talk of an arena deal has ramped up inside city hall this month — ever since Kate Gallego, the leading candidate for Phoenix mayor, announced she would not support putting city money into a new or improved arena for the Suns…
The arena vote is expected to take place in early December — ramming it down the city’s throat before a new mayor is elected.
That would seem like a super-aggressive timetable, especially since only four votes on the council are needed to kill any deal. But though Roberts notes that a public approval process is necessary to build a new arena, city leaders think they can get away without one if they’re just “refurbishing” an old one:
Councilman Sal DiCiccio said he thinks the city can go forward because the voter-approved ordinance says only that public approval is needed before building a new sports facility.
“I believe legally that we can do this,” he said. “The real question is whether or not the intent of the voters was to do that and I don’t know that. I really don’t know.”
Roberts reports that the proposed deal would involve $150 million in city cash up front, plus another $2 million a year for maintenance costs, which would come to a total of about $180 million in present value. The Suns owners would pay $80 million, or less than a third of the cost — though obviously that ratio could change once we learn about any rent payments or tax rebates or naming-rights fees. At least we can hope that all those details will come out during a measured public oversight process … oh wait.