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Phoenix councilman blasts mayor, staff for secretive Suns arena proposal

(City of Phoenix Photo)

PHOENIX – Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio said Mayor Thelda Williams and city staffers mishandled the lead-up to the vote on a $230 million arena renovation deal that would keep the Phoenix Suns downtown.

“The way this has been handled has been incredibly poor,” DiCiccio told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Thursday, the day after the council opted unanimously to delay the vote.

“They’re not doing any communicating with the public. This is all public money; the government is the public,” DiCiccio said.

The proposal the council had originally planned to vote on at Wednesday’s meeting would have had taxpayers pumping $150 million into renovating Talking Stick Resort Arena. The team would kick in $80 million.

“At the very least it’s got to be a fifty-fifty deal,” DiCiccio said, who added the city, as the landlord of the building, has spent about $80 million over the years on upgrades.

A recent poll of likely voters showed that the majority said they wouldn’t support the proposal.

“It’s the city staff, it’s the government staff, it’s Mayor Thelda Williams, that are pushing this bad deal on the public. It’s … unacceptable,” DiCiccio said.

He called the deal “rushed” and said the council hadn’t received any information about it even as the vote date drew closer.

DiCiccio said there wouldn’t have been enough votes to pass the proposal.

The vote has been postponed until Jan 23. Before then, there will be five community meetings — dates haven’t been scheduled yet — to discuss the deal. Related paperwork will be posted on the city website.

“It was not ever meant to be withheld from the public,” Williams said before the vote. “I’m a big believer in sharing this information.”

Suns President Jason Rowley told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac & Gaydos, “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.”

DiCiccio said, “You’re always going to be worried about losing the team, but the fact of the matter is I’m more worried about losing the money, at this point.”

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