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Phoenix locks down NBA team with arena vote

Phoenix City Council has approved a $230m (€202.8m) redevelopment plan for Talking Stick Resort Arena in a move that is set to end speculation the city could lose its NBA basketball franchise.

On December 6, the Phoenix Suns agreed a deal that was set to keep the team in the Arizona city until 2037 through the renovation of Talking Stick Resort Arena. First opened in 1992, the arena is one of the oldest NBA facilities and the Suns have been targeting either an improved, or new, home.

The agreement was due to be put to the vote on December 12 and the postponement of this decision had led to reports the team could seek a move to Las Vegas or Seattle. However, Phoenix City Council voted 6-2 in favour of the deal on Wednesday night following talks between council members, business leaders and members of the public.

Phoenix will be responsible for $150m of the renovation cost for the city-owned arena, with the Suns paying for the remainder. The Suns are now committed to staying in downtown Phoenix through 2037, with an option to extend the lease to 2042.

Commenting on the vote, Suns president and chief executive Jason Rowley said: “Together, we will bring the 27-year-old facility into the 21st century with infrastructure, technology and creature comfort innovations that will elevate every level of the arena and enhance the fan experience for all guests that attend games, concerts and events in this building.

“When renovations are completed in 2021, the city, state and the entire community will celebrate Talking Stick Resort Arena as a premiere sports and entertainment venue and an amenity that can be enjoyed by both local residents and the millions of visitors that frequent the Valley annually.”

Stating that the decision wasn’t taken lightly, Mayor Thelda Williams added: “I commend the City Council for their leadership and courage in doing the right thing for the city. They heard the overwhelming support from the community and voted accordingly.

“Every year, the arena generates $335m in economic impact to our city, region and state, along with supporting job and businesses, and helping to give Phoenix a national presence. Monies to the general fund then help pay for public safety, parks, libraries, etc. I believe supporting the viability of the arena is the right thing to do.

“The City of Phoenix owns Talking Stick Resort Arena and is responsible for renovations to make it a viable building – regardless of the tenant. Phoenix has long enjoyed a valuable partnership with the Suns that has helped make downtown what it is today.”