Legally Speaking: $235M Suns arena deal is a win-win for the team, city

Jan 24, 2019, 12:58 PM
(Facebook Photo)...
(Facebook Photo)
(Facebook Photo)

The Phoenix City Council voted to approve a $235 million renovation plan for its downtown arena that currently houses the Phoenix Suns, the Phoenix Mercury, the Arizona Rattlers and various other concerts and events that come to town. You have likely heard all about this, and I would like to give you a different way to think about it.

The renovation or building of a professional sports arena has, and will always have, its fair share of public opinion, scrutiny and fanaticism. Here in Arizona, we have seen it with Glendale and the Coyotes, Maricopa County and the Diamondbacks (times two) and now with Phoenix and the Suns.

The City of Phoenix made a decision decades ago to build a giant building in the heart of downtown. Presumably, it was built to start the revitalization of downtown, to bring in new businesses, to have professional sports teams, and to bring dollars into the community. The city made the decision to keep the building as one of its assets and rent it out to various tenants. Some of those tenants would be long term, like the Suns, and others would be for a day or two — think of a convention or a concert.

Fast forward to present day – Phoenix still owns the 27-year-old building and rents it to tenants. Unfortunately, this asset needs updating and that responsibility typically falls to the owner.  Maybe not all the responsibility, but how often do you hear of a tenant paying to replace a roof, the electrical wires or the plumbing? If you were renting an apartment or a house, would you be willing to absorb these costs or would you be on the phone demanding the landlord/owner to do it?

Legally, the parties to a contract are held to the terms of the contract until it expires or the parties agree to change it. Under this contract, both Phoenix and the Suns have responsibilities. Phoenix has the responsibility to keep the building habitable and the Suns have the responsibility to pay rent. If either fails to keep their end of the bargain, the other can claim “breach” and try to get out of the contract.

In the legal real estate world, if a tenant starts taking on the responsibility that belongs to the landlord, the tenant usually gets to reduce its rent, becomes part owner, and/or, in a commercial property, shares in the profits. This is exactly what is going on with Phoenix and the Suns.

At the end of the day, #LegallySpeaking, this is a win-win for the parties. It is a win-win because there are no lawsuits and the courts are not involved. Monies can go to the venture instead of to litigation.

Presumably, since each has skin in the game, each will work hard to continue to make this venture successful. That being said, as a sports fan, I am hoping the Suns can use this momentum to make their future seasons just as successful.

Monica Lindstrom

Arizona State Courts Building (Arizona Governor's Office Photo)...
Monica Lindstrom

Legally Speaking: Brnovich appeal to Arizona Supreme Court makes sense

KTAR legal analyst Monica Lindstrom thinks it's a good move by Attorney General Mark Brnovich to petition the Arizona Supreme Court to hear his appeal in a case about laws that were ruled unconstitutional.
22 days ago
(File Photo by Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images)...
Monica Lindstrom

Legally Speaking: Why judge rejected Arizona ban on mask mandates

KTAR legal expert Monica Lindstrom explains the reasons behind a judge's decision to strike down Arizona's ban on face mask mandates.
23 days ago
(Facebook File Photo/Phoenix Police Department)...
Monica Lindstrom

Legally Speaking: Police may need to be part of Phoenix oversight office

Phoenix's requirement that no current or former law enforcement be part of a new police oversight office appears to be in direct conflict with recently signed Arizona laws, writes KTAR News legal expert Monica Lindstrom.
5 months ago
Monica Lindstrom

Legally Speaking: Arizona employees could be required to get virus vaccine

With coronavirus vaccines on the horizon, Arizona employers could require their employees to get the virus vaccine but there would be exceptions.
11 months ago
(AP Photo/Matt York)...
Monica Lindstrom

Legally Speaking: Maricopa County ballot lawsuit could have merit

KTAR legal expert Monica Lindstrom says the Maricopa County ballot lawsuit could have merit, whether it's for affecting ongoing races or correcting a procedural issue for the next election.
12 months ago
(KTAR News Photo/Kevin Stone)...
Monica Lindstrom

Legally Speaking: Why Arizona’s voter registration deadline was extended

A judge conducted a balancing test before ruling that Arizona's voter registration deadline should be extended, writes KTAR legal expert Monica Lindstrom.
1 year ago

Sponsored Articles


How your family can explore the Musical Instrument Museum

Whether you want to spend a day with family, do crafts with kids at home, or have an adult night out, the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix has options. As the world’s only global musical instrument museum, MIM offers interactive and immersive exhibits to foster an appreciation of different cultures and their instruments. “A visit […]

What you need to know about spine health

With 540 million people suffering from lower back pain, it remains the leading cause of long-term disability. That’s why World Spine Day on Oct. 16 will raise awareness about spinal health with its theme, BACK2BACK. “BACK2BACK will focus on highlighting ways in which people can help their spines by staying mobile, avoiding physical inactivity, not overloading […]

More stroke patients eligible for acute treatment, thanks to research

Historically, patients underwent acute stroke treatments according to strict time guidelines. But thanks to recent advancements in stroke research, more patients are becoming candidates for clot-busting drugs and endovascular therapy at specialized centers like Barrow Neurological Institute.
Legally Speaking: $235M Suns arena deal is a win-win for the team, city