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Poll of likely voters shows most don’t want to pay to fix Phoenix Suns arena

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PHOENIX — A majority of Phoenix voters likely to cast a ballot in next year’s special election said they wouldn’t support a proposal in which taxpayers foot most of the bill to renovate the Phoenix Suns’ downtown arena.

The Data Orbital poll showed nearly 66 percent of the respondents said they weren’t in favor of the $230 million renovation deal the Phoenix City Council will vote on Wednesday. The deal would have the public kick in $185 million while the NBA team contributed $80 million to the rejuvenation of Talking Stick Resort Arena.

“The only thing that’s worse than the Suns’ record is the support for spending $185 million in public money to improve the arena,” Barrett Marson, whose company commissioned the poll, said Monday on KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News.

The survey contacted 450 likely voters Dec. 5-6. Nearly 56 percent said they were likely to vote in March, which included a runoff for mayor. Of those, 296 said no backing the deal.

The poll had margin of error of 4.6 percent.

“It’s abysmal,” Marson, a political consultant, said. “It’s losing with old people, young people, men, women. People in Phoenix don’t like this idea.”

The 30-year-old building is owned by the city. Breaking down the money, Phoenix would pay $150 million up front for the makeover and then pay $2 million a year for the next 12-plus years into a fund for future renovations.

The Suns committed to a 40-year lease in 1992, but the agreement included a provision for the team to opt out at 30 years (2022) if the building was considered obsolete.

The arena is the oldest in the league that is not undergoing renovations.

The new agreement would extend the contract through 2037, with the option to add five more years.

Renovations would occur between 2019 and 2021.

“Do it at your peril,” Marson said of the council voting for the plan.

“You can do it, but you’d better be prepared to take a lot of grief from voters who are upset about it.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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