Phoenix mayor says city needs “cutting-edge” arena for “concerts, Harlem Globetrotters”

Phoenix mayor Greg Stanton says replacing the Phoenix Suns‘ 25-year-old arena is a priority for his city, because, um, because:

“I know when people think about arenas, they always think about, ‘Well, that’s for the professional sports teams.’ Talking Stick Resort Arena in downtown Phoenix is used almost 200 nights per year.  The vast majority time it’s not for a sporting event — it’s for concerts, it’s for the Harlem Globetrotters when they come to town, it would be for the circus, it would be for ice skating and the skating events…

“You need a cutting-edge, competitive building to host all of sorts of events, including sporting events.”

(By the way, if you want to see just how badly another reporter can misquote a radio interview, compare my transcription above to the terrible one on KTAR News’ site.)

And a new arena would be more “competitive” because what now? Yes, the Suns arena isn’t sized right for hockey (“We won’t make that mistake twice for an arena in downtown Phoenix,” said Stanton), but what could possibly be $500 million in likely construction costs better about a new arena than a not-quite-new one? Especially if the old one is already in use 200 nights a year, so clearly concerts aren’t steering clear of it?

“I’m not just the mayor of the city of Phoenix, I’m a leader in this community. It’s important we don’t lose our major assets to Las Vegas or Canadian cities that would happily snap up the Coyotes or any of our major assets.”


Stanton did promise “a very intense discussion” and that any arena plan would go before the voters, so clearly he knows this is going to be a long battle, even if he didn’t actually breathe the word “dollars” during his interview. But this is how it begins, not with a bang, but with a torrent of radio word salad.

Suns owner may demand new arena, because all the other kids have one

Every once in a while one of my readers, out of concern that some day I might get my life back, wonders whether this site will soon run out of business once every sports team owner has a new stadium. To which I say: Don’t worry, my friends, Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver has my back.

One scenario being talked about — at least in real estate and downtown Phoenix circles — is a new arena being built where the current South Building of the Phoenix Convention Center is on Jefferson and Third streets. That is the oldest convention center building and is a block away from the Suns’ current arena.

US Airways Center — which is being renamed Talking Stick Resort Arena — opened in 1992.

It will soon be the fifth oldest NBA arena after new homes are built for the Golden State Warriors, Milwaukee Bucks and Sacramento Kings.

Sarver actually dropped some hints about this last fall, but it sounds like things have now moved from the “whining about it” stage to the “talking to local business and political leaders about money” stage, so it’s likely things are going to heat up soon.

Note that there’s no talk here of the Suns’ current arena being obsolete or anything — just it’s older than all the other ones, can’t we have a new one too? That’s one of the great things about the stadium and arena game: No matter how many new buildings get built, there’s always another owner waiting to circle around and get back in line. If this latest is any indication, expect the next demands to come from the likes of the Toronto Blue Jays, Jacksonville Jaguars, Detroit Pistons, San Jose Sharks, and Anaheim Ducks. Check back in a year or so to see how this prognostication turned out.

Phoenix’s convention center subsidies may limit ability to provide Suns arena subsidies

Arizona Republic columnist Robert Robb has weighed in on Phoenix’s big investment for both a massive convention center expansion and a city-owned (that’s right, city-owned) hotel, following a Republic story that the 1,000-room Sheraton has lost $28 million since 2008. Noting that Phoenix city officials had assured that the city-owned hotel “would pay for its operations and servicing the debt to build it. No sweat,” Robb reports that the hotel’s ongoing losses, paid back from the city’s Sports Facilities Taxes, may now affect the city’s ability to refurbish or expand the Suns’ basketball arena.

The big Sheraton has been a fiscal disaster — last year’s occupancy rate came to an impressive 51.2% — because the convention center has genuinely flopped. Consultants from Ernst & Young and later HVS had forecast that the hotel would be humming along at 69% occupancy, based on the assumption that the bigger convention center would draw 375,000 convention delegates a year. Last year, the center actually saw 118,332. Oops.

Phoenix Suns owner says “we have to get a new arena built,” because old one is from 1992, already

And I guess that’s about it for this morning … wait, what?!?

“We’re definitely going to have to get a new arena built,” [Phoenix Suns owner Robert] Sarver said. “Our lease runs for another eight years maybe. Between us and the city, we’ve done a good job maintaining it despite its age but it’s starting to run out of gas. It’s like a house. It gets to be 30 years old and then you’ve got a lot of work to do. You can remodel or build a new house.”

You know, when people started asking me, about ten years ago, whether the new stadium game was going to soon run its course, because every team would already have a new building, and I said, “Nah, then the first teams that got new venues will just circle around and get back on line,” I thought I was joking, at least a little bit. But the way things are going — the Suns’ current arena opened in 1992, if you’re counting — it seems like every sports owner in the country is treating 30 years as the maximum shelf life before they can demand a new building, except for those that are using an even shorter timeline.

For reference, teams whose stadiums will turn 30 over the next eight years include the Miami Dolphins, Toronto Blue Jays, Chicago White Sox, Baltimore OriolesMilwaukee BucksDetroit PistonsMinnesota Timberwolves, and Utah Jazz, with the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks coming up right on their heels. The Dolphins are already renovating their stadium with public help, while the Bucks are angling for a whole new building; anyone care to guess which of the others on this list will be next to hop back on line?