The proposed $230 million renovations of the Talking Stick Resort Arena have seen many criticisms. It had its first hearing on the last Saturday that included the City residents, a panel of City of Phoenix and Suns officials.
But, the main theme of the whole discussion was whether this much tax payer’s money should be spent on this project. There were multiple residents who opposed the project, and the same numbers were in support of the renovation project.
The project will include necessary infrastructure repairs, including plumbing updates, electrical work, and roofing repairs.
The City Council of Phoenix was supposed to vote on this proposal in the last month of 2018, but due to public dissatisfaction and questions, it was delayed. There were many allegations by the city residents including finalization of the project in a secret manner without any public knowledge and putting that proposal to vote by the council.
Christine Mackay, director of Community and Economic Development for the City of Phoenix termed the project inevitable and necessary for the continuing growth of downtown. She also told that the arena created an economic avenue of $182 million a year. It also had indirect impacts like taxation and the growth of other businesses in the same area.
She also let the residents know that there wouldn’t be any new tax. The whole $150 million would be spent from existing Sports Facilities Fund, which consists of taxes levied primarily on tourists for things like hotel rooms and car rentals. She also emphasized the fact that there wouldn’t be any change in the funding pattern from what is being followed since 1989.
Along with the $150 million, the Suns would pay the remaining $80 million.
As per the project proposal, the City will have to pay $2 million a year for the next twelve and a half years. The Suns will also pay $1 million to the same renewal and replacement fund for the same period.
The Suns will continue to operate and maintain the place apart from paying rent to the city. As per the proposal, a new practice facility also will be built by the Suns costing $50 million somewhere in Phoenix to reduce the pressure on Arena.
The deal also will have a clause to put the Suns to continue in the deal at least until 2037, if they back out they will have to pay a fine of $200 million.
There were multiple dignitaries present in the meeting like Phoenix Mayor Thelda Williams, Councilwoman Debra Stark, Councilman Michael Nowakowski, City Manager Ed Zuercher, and Assistant City Manager Milton Dohoney and Suns President Jason Rowley, Phoenix Mercury General Manager Jim Pitman and arena General Manager Ralph Marchetta.
Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver was not present in the meeting.
As per the maximum number of residents, they did not understand the project fully. Major of them thought for the project a new tax is scheduled to be levied, but knowing that an existing fund will be used for this, they said they would never come to this meeting, had they known that.
But, the major opposition was for using taxpayers’ money for a private project which will be used by the few who buy tickets to the facility. As per them, the money could have been used in other substitute ways like education, road, and health.
Multiple Suns players were also present in the meeting.
There are many more public meetings scheduled in Phoenix before the proposal goes to vote. The schedule is listed below,
- Monday, Jan. 7, 6-8 p.m. at Paradise Valley Community Center, 17402 N. 40th St.
- Tuesday, Jan. 8, 6-8 p.m. at Goelet A.C. Beuf Community Center, 3435 W. Pinnacle Peak Road.
- Wednesday, Jan. 9, 6-8pm at the South Mountain Community Center, 212 E. Alta Vista Road.
- Thursday, Jan. 10, 6-8pm at the Desert West Community Center, 6501 W. Virginia Ave.
Though the project will be a boost for the city’s all-round development, it should be done with the consent of everyone.