We end 2018 with a countdown of the 10 biggest stories of the year on Arena Digest, as chosen by editors and partially based on page views. Today, #8: The Phoenix Suns pitch a $230-million Talking Stick Resort Arena renovation plan.
By early 2019, there should be a clear sense of whether a proposed Talking Stick Resort Arena renovation will move forward. If approved by the Phoenix City Council in January, the upgrades will keep the Suns in downtown Phoenix for years to come, but rejection of the proposal could prompt plenty of questions about what happens next.
Talking Stick Resort Arena first opened in 1992 and is currently the fifth-oldest active NBA venue. Its aging condition, combined with the number of older arenas that have been either renovated or replaced in recent years, has left some questions about its future. However, there are some natural advantages that the facility has to offer–including a good location in downtown Phoenix–which is perhaps one reason why the Suns are focused on a renovation rather than a new arena.
Under a recently released proposal, the Suns and the City of Phoenix could agree to a $230-million renovation of the facility. The city would pay $150 million of that cost with revenue from its Sports Facilities Fund, while the Suns would pay the remaining $80 million and commit to constructing a $25-to-$50 million practice facility within Phoenix’s limits. The plan would also commit the Suns to the arena until 2037, with an option to extend that stay until 2042.
The Phoenix City Council was scheduled to issue its decision last week, but delayed the vote amid criticisms that it would take place with little time for public review. As a result, the council pushed its vote back to January 23 and the Suns and the city agreed to discuss the plans with the public over the coming weeks.
For right now, there is a bit urgency behind the discussions, due in part to a clause in the arena lease that allows the Suns to opt out in 2022 if the venue is deemed obsolete. The original lease allows the Suns to trigger the process of determining the venue’s condition as early as July 1, 2019, unless the team and the city strike an agreement before that date. City leadership is also due for a shakeup, as a March runoff election will determine a new mayor and potentially affect any chances of striking an agreement down the road. Suns owner Robert Sarver has sought to dispel speculation over a potential move and emphasized his willingness to work with the city, but the coming weeks will be crucial in determining whether Talking Stick Resort Arena is guaranteed to be the team’s long-term home.
Here’s our Top Ten of 2018 to date: