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The Phoenix Suns are reportedly the latest professional sports franchise to contemplate relocation if it doesn’t get a new arena deal.
Per Laurie Roberts of the Arizona Republic, Suns owner Robert Sarver is threatening Phoenix city officials with a move to Seattle or Las Vegas.
Sarver’s threat comes after Roberts reported Phoenix Mayor Thelda Williams and councilwomen Laura Pastor and Debra Star asked to postpone a Wednesday vote on contributing $150 million to a renovation of Talking Stick Resort Arena because the deal wouldn’t pass if held Wednesday.
Suns president and CEO Jason Rowley issued a statement affirming the organization’s desire to remain in Phoenix despite the vote being delayed until next month, via ArizonaSports.com:
“We have learned that a request has been made to continue the agenda item on the arena renovation until a council meeting on Jan. 23. We very much look forward to publicly discussing the many ways in which Talking Stick Resort Arena benefits Downtown Phoenix and our community at large, and answering any questions the Council and their constituents may have about the arena and the proposed renovation. Our priority remains being in Downtown Phoenix long-term, and we’re excited about the opportunity that lies ahead.”
Per Steven Hsieh of the Phoenix New Times, the Suns would put up $80 million of the proposed $230 million renovation and would cover any costs over the total amount. The team would also build a new practice facility that would free up the arena for events like concerts and circuses throughout the year.
A survey by Marson Media and Data Orbital (h/t Hsieh) found that 66 percent of Phoenix voters oppose using public money on renovations to the arena that has hosted the Suns since 1992 and underwent renovations in 2003.
Sarver, who has owned the Suns since 2004, has received heavy criticism for the way he’s run the franchise. The Suns were ranked the worst NBA organization and Sarver the worst NBA owner in ESPN.com’s 2016 ultimate standings.
The Suns haven’t made the playoffs since 2009-10 and have finished at or above .500 just twice in that span. Their 4-24 record this season is the worst in the NBA.