$235M Renovation Plan For Suns Arena Approved By Phoenix City Council

On Wednesday, the Phoenix City Council approved a much-scrutinized $235 million renovation plan that will keep the Phoenix Suns in the city’s downtown arena until at least 2037.

The proposal passed by a 6-2 vote, with Sal DiCiccio and Jim Waring voting no.

Under the deal, the city is contributing no more than $150 million of the $234.9 million estimated cost. The Suns, who operate the city-owned facility, will cover the rest of the costs, in addition to any overruns.

The city’s portion will come from its Sports Facilities Fund, which is made up of tourism taxes on hotels and rental cars.

The arena will continue to host Suns games and other events during the renovation, which is expected to be completed in 2021.

But the building will be closed for a portion of the NBA offseason, which means the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA and Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League will temporarily have to play home games elsewhere, accordIng to the city.

The biggest chunk of the funding in the approved deal, around $100 million, will go toward replacing or repairing the building’s aging mechanical, electrical, plumbing and communication systems.

As part of the deal, the Suns are required to separately finance and build an off-site practice facility in Phoenix. The arena’s existing practice areas will be repurposed for storage and other essential building functions as part of the renovation.

Both parties will also pay into an account to be used for future infrastructure needs, with the city contributing $2 million annually from the Sports Facilities Fund, up to $25 million, and the Suns chipping in $1 million a year, up to $12.5 million.

Both sides had until July 1 to update the contract that went into effect when the arena opened in 1992.

If the deadline arrived with no deal having been reached, the Suns would have been able to invoke an obsolescence clause and move to terminate their lease as early as 2022.

Recent polling found that public opinion shifted in favor of the deal after residents were informed about its details.

One person who wasn’t swayed was Greta Rogers, the 90-year-old Phoenix woman who gained fame for slamming Suns owner Robert Sarver at last month’s meeting, famously saying “he’s so tight he squeaks when he walks.”

Rogers was more subdued Wednesday but reiterated her opposition during the lengthy public comment session before the vote.

Some opponents of the plan felt the city wasn’t getting enough out of the deal and didn’t want public funds to be used to benefit the wealthy owner of a pro sports team, especially one that hasn’t been competitive in nearly a decade.

The Suns haven’t reached the playoffs since 2010, when Steve Nash led them to the Western Conference Finals.

Others against the plan said the city has costly issues, including road repairs and homelessness, that should take priority over the arena.

Supporters, including several prominent Phoenix business leaders and representatives of nonprofit groups that receive assistance from Phoenix Suns Charities, argued that the arena is a vital economic driver that provides benefits that far outweigh the costs.

The city said that the arena’s 130 or so ticketed events annually generate $335 million of direct and indirect revenue. The venue also hosts around 200 non-ticketed community events a year, the city said.