1992 – that is the year the Talking Stick Resort Arena, American West Arena at the time, officially opened. At 26 years old, Talking Stick Resort Arena is the oldest in the NBA, and the City of Phoenix and their tenants want to change that.
The City of Phoenix has proposed $230 million in renovations to the arena. The Suns organization would contribute $80 million, and the remaining $150 million would stem from a tourism tax on rental cars and hotels. Because visitors pay 90 percent of this tax, Arizona citizens would largely be unaffected by the deal but still reap the benefits of the improved facilities.
The City of Phoenix held public meetings Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday, where citizens in opposition and support of the deal could voice their opinions. Supporters of the renovations highlighted the extensive economic benefits the stadium provides for the state.
Tonight’s community meeting about the proposed renovation for the city-owned downtown Arena has wrapped up. About 30 residents were there and provided 10 comments/questions. Details on the remaining 2 meetings: https://t.co/EKXf4Oouph #PHXarena pic.twitter.com/6PJLvMig7L
— City of Phoenix, AZ (@CityofPhoenixAZ) January 9, 2019
According to the City of Phoenix, the arena generates $335 million in annual revenue for the city and state through ticket sales, hotels, food/beverage, tax revenue, and more. Plus, the renovations will only increase this figure, as the updated facilities will attract more vendors and fans from both in- and out-of-state.
Opposing the plan are individuals who philosophically don’t believe that public dollars should go towards a private sports team, according to Phoenix Suns President and CEO Jason Rowley. However, he notes the public dollars would be impacting a publicly-owned facility and not a private entity.
“The most interesting thing to me was that there were numerous people who heard the presentation from the City of Phoenix and learned about the simple fact that it’s a city-owned building,” Rowley explains. “Also, the source of revenue is a tourism tax and not a sales or property tax, so these people walked away with a more favorable view of the proposed renovation. There were a lot of misconceptions at the start.”
Rowley doesn’t know whether or not the deal will pass, but he believes that opinions are shifting in favor of the deal as the organization informs the public about the realities of it. “We should have done a better job educating the public early on,” he explains. “We’re trying to make up for that now, and as we are educating people more, people are starting to have a more positive view about it.”
The Suns are here to stay in Phoenix and asking for an investment in their future, and Arizona’s future.