Phoenix Suns President Says Team Wants To Stay In Downtown Phoenix

By Christina Estes
Published: Thursday, December 13, 2018 - 8:40am
Updated: Thursday, December 13, 2018 - 8:44am

Phoenix Suns President and CEO Jason Rowley
Christina Estes/KJZZ
Phoenix Suns President and CEO Jason Rowley told reporters on Dec. 12, 2018, the team has made no threats to leave and the owner's primary objective is to get a deal done in downtown Phoenix.

After the Phoenix City Council voted to postpone action on a $230 million deal with the Phoenix Suns, the team’s president spoke out Wednesday afternoon. It was the first time the Suns have publicly shared details on negotiations.

Instead of voting on the renovation deal, the council voted to hold five public meetings and post financial documents online so residents can understand how the city-owned arena operates and who pays for what.

“The reality is, up to this point, the Suns organization has put in about $150 million and that is not counting taxes, that’s not counting operational costs,” said Jason Rowley, the team’s president and CEO. “It’s about $150 million we’ve put into it in construction and capital improvements over the years and the city’s put in about $80 million.”

The proposed deal would flip those numbers, with the city paying $150 million in initial costs and the Suns $80 million. It would also include a new fund for future renovations with Phoenix kicking in up to $25 million over 12.5 years and the Suns contributing up to $12.5 million.

Although city leaders have been talking with the Suns for about three years, negotiations have taken place behind closed doors in executive session. The proposal became public less than a week before Wednesday’s scheduled vote.

Councilman Michael Nowakowski whose district includes downtown said he had heard from people concerned about a lack of documents. He requested the city post financial documents online so that people can come to the public meetings prepared.

“The more we have out there, the more information, the more we’re able to talk about it, the sooner we can find common ground and figure this thing out,” he said.

Mayor Thelda Williams, who originally called for Wednesday’s vote before requesting it be postponed until Jan. 23, 2019, said she misunderstood the council.

“We’ve had this topic several times in e-session and I thought I was directed to go continue these conversations,” she said. “It was not ever meant to be withheld from the public. I’m a big believer in sharing this information.”

Rowley said the team looks forward to sharing information with the public and the Suns’ goal is to have a fair and equitable deal.

Talking Stick Resort Arena
Phil Latzman/KJZZ
Talking Stick Resort Arena in downtown Phoenix in April 2018.

“Our commitment, 100 percent, is to stay in downtown Phoenix, to come to a resolution with that,” he said. “The reality of the sports environment is that if we can’t come to any kind of a conclusion or any kind of an agreement, we don’t know what the future will hold.”

He said Robert Sarver, the Suns’ owner, is committed to downtown Phoenix and has made no threats to move the team. However, Rowley acknowledged other cities, like Seattle and Las Vegas, are looking for NBA teams and added, “Nobody would close that option.”

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