The Arizona Coyotes and Phoenix Suns are continuing with separate arena pursuits, with both franchises looking to remain in Arizona.
For the Coyotes, another contender for the site of an arena may have emerged in the form of Mesa. It has been reported that the Coyotes are considering a new arena in the city, with the area surrounding Sloan Park, the spring training complex for the Chicago Cubs, being one possibility.
An arena near Sloan Park could provide the Coyotes with an accessible location, and one that allows the team to shift its operations to East Valley. While acknowledging the possible fit, officials are stressing that talks of a new Mesa arena are very preliminary at this point. More from AZCentral:
Mesa Mayor John Giles said he’s been involved in discussions with the Coyotes, but said it would be “premature” to say whether a Mesa arena is “realistic or serious.”
Giles said the area surrounding Mesa Riverview and Sloan Park is “some of the most prime real estate in the state if not the country right now,” because of its proximity to Loop 101 and Loop 202.
“If I were the Coyotes, I know I would want to be there. But whether it’s a good deal for Mesa or not is something that we’ll have to look into,” Giles said, noting that several others have also expressed interest in the land.
Giles said “serious conversations” with the team hinge on the passage of a bill pending before the state Legislature that would establish a funding model for a new Coyotes arena.
Currently, the state legislature is considering a bill sponsored by state senator Bob Worsley that would allow for the creation of a special taxing district as part of a private/public funding model for a new Coyotes arena. That proposal, which calls for the Coyotes to contribute $170 million to a $395 million project, does not include a specific site, but provides a blueprint to building an arena once it is settled.
Meanwhile, a separate proposal for the Phoenix Suns is taking shape. The Phoenix City Council has extended a contract with the Barrett Sports Group, which allows the firm to look into the viability of renovating the Suns’ current home, Talking Stick Resort Arena.
The Suns have made it known that they want to either modernize the existing venue, or look to build a new one altogether. If a plan comes to fruition, its cost is expected to be covered by a private/public partnership in which the city uses hotel tax money. The city says, however, that it has more details to sort through before determining whether a renovation to Talking Stick Resort Arena is a feasible option. More from AZCentral:
A spokeswoman for the Suns did not respond to a request for comment. If a deal materializes, the team likely would foot a portion of the bill for a new or renovated arena.
Uncertainty about the team’s future downtown has stirred in recent years. Team owner Robert Sarver says the franchise needs a new facility, and the Suns have an option to potentially exit their lease in 2022. Yet plans for a new arena have not emerged.
City officials haven’t ruled out a new arena, but renovating the existing facility could be cheaper and comes with a possible political advantage: It might not require a vote of city residents.
[Deputy city manager Paul] Blue said Barrett Sports Group will present its findings to the council, likely by the late spring or early summer. He said the city and the Suns have not agreed on a “specific strategy” with respect to a future facility.
At this point, it is clear that both teams will look to obtain new or (perhaps in the Suns case) renovated venues. However, there are still going to be details to sort through for both teams, with the pending legislation being a key factor for the Coyotes, and the study on Talking Stick Resort Arena possibly providing a better idea of what the Suns opt to pursue.