ARIZONA NEWS

Phoenix mayoral candidate Kate Gallego wants Suns to pay for arena

Dec 13, 2018, 4:29 PM | Updated: Dec 14, 2018, 7:47 am
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)...
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX – Phoenix mayoral candidate Kate Gallego thinks the Suns, not taxpayers, should foot the bill for major arena upgrades.

“My personal opinion is that sports teams like the Suns are among the most profitable enterprises in America and that they should pay for their own scoreboard, kitchen and seat cushions,” Gallego told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac & Gaydos on Thursday.

On Wednesday, the City Council postponed a vote on a proposed renovation of Talking Stick Resort Arena that would cost the city $150 million. The Suns would put in $80 million as part of the deal.

The Council agreed to hold five public information sessions before voting on the proposal at its Jan. 23 meeting.

“My mind is made up,” Gallego said. I don’t think this is the best use of limited public dollars, but it’s really worthwhile to have that conversation.”

“Transparency is important, so I do want to applaud them (for delaying the vote).”

Gallego said the city has more pressing issues such as public safety and homelessness.

“We have limited resources,” she said. “We can’t do everything at once, and so we should talk to the community about what they value.”

Gallego said she doesn’t mind the city paying for arena maintenance and infrastructure upkeep, but the Suns are asking for features such as a VIP club and renovated locker rooms they should fund themselves.

“This is extensive upgrades where you may not recognize Talking Stick Resort Arena when it’s done,” she said.

Gallego said she wants the Suns to stay in downtown Phoenix but they should seek private financing to upgrade their facility.

“There’s been some great teams win championships in privately financed arenas,” she said.

“The Suns should get the chance to bet on their own product on the court. If they believe they have the right team, they should be able to take all the risk and make all of the profit.”

Gallego was the leader in the November election by more than 70,000 votes, but she fell short of the 50 percent threshold required to win the race.

She will face fellow former council member Daniel Valenzuela in a runoff on March 12.

After the vote was delayed Wednesday, Valenzuela issued a statement approving of the decision, but he didn’t say whether he supported the renovation plan.

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Phoenix mayoral candidate Kate Gallego wants Suns to pay for arena