Phoenix approves controversial $230M arena deal to keep Suns

The Suns will stay in downtown Phoenix through at least 2037 after the Phoenix City Council approved a controversial $230 million renovation deal for Talking Stick Resort Arena, the team announced Wednesday.

“I’m glad that we can carry on the vision that (former owner Jerry Colangelo) had and that this council had 26 years ago to get this building built,” Suns owner Robert Sarver said after the vote, adding he believes the investment will be a “win-win” for both the city of Phoenix and the team.

The agreement, which passed by a 6-2 vote from the council, will require the city to pay $150 million from its Sports Facilities Fund, while the Suns pay the remaining $80 million, according to the Arizona Republic. The deal also requires the Suns to spend $10 million on community benefits (including at least $2.6 million to the city’s preschool program this year). Additionally, 80 percent of revenues generated by the city from the arena will go toward safety costs for the city.

The Suns will have the option to extend the lease to 2042, but if the team breaks the lease before 2037, it will face a $2 million fine.

The agreement comes after some controversy around renovating the arena amid backlash from the public that ultimately delayed the vote by a month. The city council hosted public meetings to inform and educate residents about details of the agreement.

Suns CEO and president Jason Rowley told the Republic in mid-December that the team’s plan was to look for another arena within the Valley if the city council didn’t agree to upgrade Talking Stick Resort Arena, adding, moving out of state would be a last-resort option. However, the Republic also reported at the time that team owner Robert Sarver had threatened city officials with moving the team to Seattle or Las Vegas if the arena wasn’t improved.

Renovations to the 27-year-old building are expected to be completed in 2021.