NBA basketball franchise the Phoenix Suns has agreed a deal that is set to keep the team in the Arizona city until 2037 through a $230m (£180.2m/€202.2m) renovation of its Talking Stick Resort Arena.
Having opened in 1992, the arena is one of the oldest NBA facilities and the Suns have long been seeking either an improved, or new, home. Franchise relocation has previously been hinted at, but on Thursday evening Phoenix City Council released details of a deal that will be put to the vote on December 12.
The AZ Central website said the deal spells out that Phoenix will be responsible for $150m of the renovation cost, with the Suns paying for the remainder. The city owns the facility and the Suns will continue to pay rent to use the arena, while maintaining the right to operate and maintain the building, including booking concerts and other events.
Following the renovation project, which has been earmarked to take place between 2019 and 2021, the city will pay $2m annually over 12-and-a-half years into a fund ringfenced for future arena improvements. The Suns will pay $1m per year over the same period. The team will also build a new practice facility, at a cost of between $25m to $30m, in the city.
If the agreement is signed off, the Suns are committed to staying in downtown Phoenix through 2037, with an option to extend the lease to 2042. If they leave before 2037, they will be forced to pay an exit fee of $200m.
The Suns are in the middle of a 40-year lease deal to play at the arena. However, the deal signed in 1992 included an exit clause after 30 years which meant the Suns can leave downtown Phoenix in 2022 if the arena is deemed outdated. AZ Central said the window to determine whether the arena is obsolete opens on July 1 next year.
Mayor Thelda Williams said the city’s share of the renovation funding will cover necessary infrastructure repairs such as plumbing updates, electrical work and roofing repairs. “This is our building,” Williams said. “It’s our responsibility.”
The Mayor added that the Suns will be responsible for providing other ‘luxury’ enhancements, such as suite upgrades.