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Group Drops Talking Stick Resort Arena Referendum Pursuit

Talking Stick Resort Arena

After seeking to put a renovation agreement with the Phoenix Suns before voters, a group is dropping its pursuit of a Talking Stick Resort Arena referendum. 

On January 23, the Phoenix City Council approved a $230 million renovation agreement with the Suns that will cover upgrades to Talking Stick Resort Arena. The funding model for that plan calls for the city to contribute $150 million from its Sports Facilities Fund, which receives revenue from taxes on car rentals and hotel stays, and the Suns paying the remaining $80 million while building an off-site practice facility at an estimated $25-$50 million.

Following the council’s vote to approve the agreement, an effort to put it before voters was launched by a group called Common Sense Phoenix. However, after city legal representatives stated that the clerk’s office would not accept its petitions, the group opted to end its campaign. More from the Arizona Republic:

Attorneys for Phoenix sent Common Sense Phoenix a letter late last week warning that the city clerk would not accept its petitions because only “legislative acts” are subject to referendum, and the city does not believe the arena deal was a “legislative act.”

Rather than fight the city in court, the group is bowing out.

“After careful consideration and long conversations with my clients, we have decided to pull the plug on our petition effort to refer the Phoenix Suns arena deal to the ballot,” Petition Partners owner Drew Chavez said in a statement.

“We thank the thousands of voters who signed the petitions over the past week. Rather than press ahead with a bitter conflict, we believe it is time for the city to move forward to more important issues and less partisan battles,” he said.

As for the Suns and the city, the two sides will move forward with plans for a renovation that will improve Talking Stick Resort Arena’s infrastructure while modernizing certain fan amenities. The agreement calls for the Suns–who could have opted out of their lease in 2022 had the venue been deemed obsolete–to commit to the arena through 2037, with an option potentially extending their stay until 2042. Renovations are slated to take place on a schedule from 2019-2021.

Image courtesy Visit Phoenix. 

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