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Team president: Arena renovations about more than just Phoenix Suns

(Twitter Photo/@TripleDobleRD

PHOENIX — Despite there still being no deal to renovate Talking Stick Resort Arena, the Phoenix Suns are looking to stay in downtown Phoenix until 2037, the team’s President Jason Rowley said.

“Our option A, B and C is to continue to operate the building and have the Phoenix Suns continue to be the NBA team in this market,” he told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac & Gaydos on Wednesday.

The Phoenix City Council voted the same day to delay a vote on a potential $230 million deal to renovate the arena until Jan. 23.

The deal would replace the plumbing and electrical systems for the NBA’s oldest arena not currently undergoing renovations.

It would also make other improvements to the arena, including updating security systems and widening concourses.

Rowley said negotiations with the city to revamp the deteriorating building have been ongoing for the past three years.

Part of the current deal stipulates that if the arena is determined “obsolete” in July, the Suns can leave the building by July 2022.

“When you start walking people through (the arena) and you see the leaks that happen every day, the elevators that stop working every day, the beer that is spilling out of our keg rooms into the lower levels, the building needs to be updated, and that’s just a functional reality,” he said.

While the team is not obligated to put any money toward renovations, he said, the team was willing to chip in $80 million, while the city would put in $150 million.

Rowley said while the building is owned by the city, the Suns have put about $150 million toward construction, maintenance and improvements, while the city has put in $80 million, meaning that the deal on the table is a flip of previous spending.

Some critics, including members of the city council, have said taxpayer money should not go toward supporting sports teams.

Rowley countered this, saying the arena is more than just home to the Suns.

“This building is 26 years old. If you want to continue to have concerts and the other 200 community events that happen in the building, if you want to have a world-class town hall, if you will, those dollars have to be expended,” he said.

He also pushed back on critics who say the team should pay more in the new deal, citing the amount of money the Suns have put in over the entirety of the current agreement.

“Show me a landlord-tenant situation where essentially, over the life of the entire deal, the tenant has paid 50 percent of the cost of the building, and that’s not even counting operational costs. We cover 100 percent of the operational costs every year,” he said.

Rowley acknowledged that the team has not been competitive in years, but said the team has made great charitable and economic contributions to the area.

“As a Suns fan myself … that’s a short-sighted way of looking at it, because this is something that is long-term,” he said.

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