Senior executives from NBA basketball franchise the Phoenix Suns have maintained relocation from the Arizona capital would be a last resort following the disappointment of delays to its arena renovation plan.
Phoenix City Council last week delayed a vote on a $230m (£182m/€203m) renovation of Talking Stick Resort Arena, leading to speculation that the franchise may move to Las Vegas or Seattle.
Earlier, 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 last week only to be postponed until January 23 to allow residents to attend five public meetings to discuss the plans.
The Arizona Republic newspaper said a council member has backed away from an earlier comment where he stated that Suns owner Robert Sarver had told him the team would leave for Seattle or Las Vegas if the arena deal wasn’t approved.
Meanwhile, Suns CEO and president Jason Rowley said: “We would look for another home here in the Valley but if that didn’t happen, if there wasn’t any option here in the Valley, what’s the other option after that?”
Rowley maintained that no contact has been made to other cities, adding: “What he (Sarver) would say is ‘Let me out of it (the contract) so I can find another place here in the Valley.’ He’s an Arizona guy. He doesn’t want to move the team.”
Earlier, in a video released via Twitter, Sarver said: “The Phoenix Suns are not leaving Phoenix. I am 100% committed and have been for the last four years to find a solution to keep them in downtown Phoenix where they belong.”
However, the Republic noted that as it stands not even half of the City Council is in favour of committing the $150m the public purse has been asked to contribute to the project.