In touting a proposed Talking Stick Resort Arena renovation plan, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver suggested it would be a personal failure if the Phoenix Suns move from the Valley.
The Suns and the City of Phoenix are working on a $230-million Talking Stick Resort Arena renovation plan. Under the financial framework, the city would pay $150 million of that cost from its Sports Facilities Fund, with the Suns contributing the remaining $80 million and building a $25-to-$50-million practice facility within Phoenix’s city limits. The plan’s status is uncertain right now, as the Phoenix City Council pushed a vote scheduled for last week back to January 23 amid criticisms that the decision was being rushed.
For the Suns and the city, the urgency behind the talks is a clause in the arena lease that allows the Suns to opt out in 2022 if the venue is deemed obsolete. The organization can trigger the process of determining the venue’s condition as early as July 1, 2019 if an agreement is not finalized by then, prompting questions about whether it will relocate if the renovation plan is not approved. Suns owner Robert Starver has sought to dispel that notion, and Silver backed the Phoenix market in a recent interview on The Full 48 podcast with Howard Beck.
During that interview, Silver threw his weight behind the proposed renovation deal as a viable plan economically, while suggesting it would be a failure on his part if the club left the Phoenix market. More from Arizona Sports:
“Robert made news and then unmade the news,” Silver said of the later rescinded report that said Suns owner Robert Sarver threatened a city councilperson with moving the team to Seattle or Las Vegas. “Subsequently he and others in his organization made absolutely clear that their 100 percent intention is to stay in Phoenix.
“I’ve made clear as well, as commissioner, it’d be a failure on my part if a team ended up moving out of a market. I will say in Phoenix … it’s the oldest arena now in the NBA that hasn’t been either completely rebuilt or renovated. There’s no question the arena needs a substantial investment.”
Funding for other NBA arenas built during his tenure have all been split between local municipalities and NBA teams, Silver said. The commissioner said that with arenas needing upward of 200 days of bookings to be successful, cities must do their part in helping pay for an NBA team’s home.
Phoenix is an undeniably strong market, and one that has generally supported the NBA over the years. The region is, however, facing several major sports facilities issues that it has to consider, with the Suns, NHL’s Coyotes, and MLB’s Diamondbacks all expressing dissatisfaction with the current state of their venues. (It also remains to be seen whether a potential MLS expansion squad will fit into that market.) Server and now Silver have deemphasized the possibility of a move, but it will be another month before it is known whether the proposed renovation is the solution to the Suns remaining in Phoenix.
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