Support for the Talking Stick Resort Arena renovations remains strong at second public hearing

An illustration of investments involved in the Talking Stick Resort Arena deal./Rose Law Group photo


Disclosure: Rose Law Group represents the Phoenix Suns

By Rose Law Group staff

Approximately 60 people attended the second of five Phoenix-run community hearings on the Talking Stick Resort Arena proposed renovations. Like the first hearing, this north Paradise Valley area gathering displayed an overwhelming show of support. Of 19 speakers, just three expressed opposition to the Suns Arena deal in the two-hour meeting.

“Pardon the pun, but this is really a slam dunk,” said Steve Molina.

“This is about doing the right thing for the city. I’d hate to see this thing move to Native American land… the city of Phoenix would be out of luck and lose all this tax revenue.”

City Economic Development Director, Christine McKay explained the city-owned building, which is paid for by the existing tourist tax, is 27 years old and needs to be repaired and renovated. She showed photos of corroded plumbing and explained the roof is leaky and fixing it will be expensive.

Since 1992, the Sun’s organization, the anchor tenant, has paid more than $300 million in maintenance; the landlord city has paid nothing.

The Suns pay for 100 percent of the operations, maintenance and rent. The rent will be doubled in the new deal and will provide the city an additional $60 million over the next 15 years.

If the renovation deal is approved, the Suns over the life of the deal will have contributed 52 percent of all costs and the city 47 percent. The Suns only use the arena 33 percent of the time, McKay said. The rest of the uses are the community, entertainment and sports events.

Suns President and CEO Jason Rowley said improvements that will benefit fans, and revenue generation are borne by the Suns. As the landlord, the city will pay for basic upgrades.

Stakeholders say arena events add to restaurant activity downtown, more so than a football or baseball game because patrons don’t eat at arena events, enhancing downtown as a whole every day the arena is filled.

Under the deal, the Suns cannot play home games anywhere but at Talking Stick Resort Arena without a $200 million penalty.

If the renovation deal is not made, the contract will go to an arbitrator, and the city will likely be on the hook for the whole $230-250 million dollars. With a done deal, the Suns take nearly half of that cost.

Audience comments*

[It would be a] “crime if the city does not take care of this building, said Teresa Boals. “The building needs help. The city needs this building, and I don’t think people understand that this doesn’t cost us any money. We need to get the message out that this won’t cost us any new taxes”.

Nancy Hudak, who is associated with Helping Hands for Single Moms, said she “would love to keep the arena downtown.”

Another resident, Jake Monteymore, put it this way: “The renovation is a fifty-fifty deal. Do it. If it’s not done, it will crush downtown.”

Marge Lindsey: “With the presentation that was made, I don’t understand why we’re here and it shows why we should stand behind the renovations.”

Candace Freemoure: “Tourism tax is a dedicated source of revenue, and we must not be neglectful of taking care of our assets.”

Wes Harris, who spoke in opposition on Saturday, came to Saturday’s second meeting, asking whether the city shares in revenues. The city indicates it would get 10 percent of all revenues from all events. He asked to see the details of what is being renovated. Rowley of the Suns clarifies that with this deal in place, the team will not build a practice facility on a reservation.

“I can’t even begin to imagine what this city would be without the Suns,” said  David Pollack.

Tim Montamoyor noted that The Arizona Republic issued a retraction for its earlier story — that Suns owner Robert Sarver called city council members to say he’d take the team out of state.

Speaking to the city’s Sports Facility Fund, Katrina Kaylor said, “The city needs to live up to their promises. I am one of those people who believe that a strong downtown makes a strong city. The community benefits from this arrangement. The arts and culture community benefits. It’s critically important that this be maintained.”

Garrick McFadden noted the upgrades need to include compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (which the city has agreed to).

  • Rose Law Group apologizes for any misspelling of names.
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