Phoenix City Council has delayed a vote on a $230m (£182m/€203m) renovation of Talking Stick Resort Arena, home of NBA basketball team the Phoenix Suns, amid suggestions that the franchise may move to Las Vegas or Seattle.
Last week, the Suns agreed a deal that looked set to keep the team in the Arizona city until 2037 with the renovation of Talking Stick Resort Arena, which is one of the oldest facilities in the league having opened in 1992.
The deal had been due to be put to the vote yesterday (Wednesday) but this has now been postponed until January 23 to allow residents to attend five public meetings to discuss the plans.
Jason Rowley, president and chief executive of the Suns, said in a statement: “We have learned that a request has been made to continue the agenda item on the arena renovation until a council meeting on January 23.
“We very much look forward to publicly discussing the many ways in which Talking Stick Resort Arena benefits Downtown Phoenix and our community at large, and answering any questions the council and their constituents may have about the arena and the proposed renovation. Our priority remains being in Downtown Phoenix long term, and we’re excited about the opportunity that lies ahead.”
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included an exit clause after 30 years which meant the Suns can leave downtown Phoenix in 2022 if the arena is deemed outdated.
With the Suns’ future at Talking Stick Resort Arena unclear, it has emerged that team owner Robert Sarver would be willing to take the franchise to Seattle or Las Vegas should an arena deal not be reached.
A council member who discussed the matter with Sarver told the AZ Central website: “Sarver’s talking about moving. He basically told me the team will go (if they don’t get a renovated arena). Vegas and Seattle were the two he talked about.”
City manager Ed Zuercher added: “I don’t consider it a threat. They’ve talked about what their options are. Robert has never threatened me. He’s mentioned that there are other cities that are looking for NBA teams.”
Seattle used to have an NBA franchise, until the SuperSonics relocated to Oklahoma City in 2008 and rebranded as the Thunder. Seattle was last week awarded an NHL franchise that will play at the renovated KeyArena and the facility could potentially host an NBA team should Sarver decide to relocate.
Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena could also be an option. The arena opened in 2016 and serves as the home of the Golden Knights NHL team.
AZ Central reported last week that the city of Phoenix would cover $150m of the renovation costs for Talking Stick Resort Arena, with the Suns paying for the remainder.