Nine days after the Phoenix City Council approved a controversial deal to renovate the Phoenix Suns home arena, Suns owner Robert Sarver donated $50,000 to a campaign PAC supporting a councilwoman who cast a crucial vote. That donation to Councilwoman Vania Guevara last month came after she flipped her “no” vote to a “yes,” with Sarver’s pledge to spend $2.6 million on Head Start programs in her district.
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Sarver followed up his donation to Guevara with a $100,000 contribution to a firefighter PAC backing the mayoral campaign of Councilman Daniel Valenzuela, also a supporter of the arena deal. Sarver is the largest known individual financial supporter of Valenzuela’s campaign. The Suns owner provided this statement to 12 News about his campaign spending: “I care deeply about the future of the city of Phoenix. I am proud to support candidates who have the best interests of the city at heart, particularly those who are committed to job creation and improving education. I gave openly, not behind a veil, and I look forward to the exciting days ahead for our community.”
The Phoenix City Council approved a controversial deal with the Phoenix Suns that will keep the NBA franchise in downtown Phoenix through at least 2037. The council voted 6-2, with Vice Mayor Jim Waring and Councilman Sal DiCiccio opposing it, to approve the $230 million deal. The city will pay $150 million from its Sports Facilities Fund, which is composed of a 1 percent tax on hotels and a 2 percent tax on car rentals.
The council added a number of tweaks to the deal, including: Requiring the Suns to spend $10 million on community benefits, including at least $2.6 million to the city’s preschool program. The city will hire someone to oversee Phoenix’s expenditures on the renovations. The city will commit the $1.5 million rent increase from the Suns to homeless issues. 80 percent of any additional revenues generated by the city from the arena will go toward city public safety costs.
In the video, Sarver stated the following: Hello Suns fans. I hope you take a minute to listen to an important message that I want to share with you. First and foremost, the Phoenix Suns are not leaving Phoenix. I am 100 percent committed and have been for the last four years to find a solution to keep them in downtown Phoenix, where they belong. I am a strong proponent, as evidenced by the term sheet that I signed last week, that we should renovate the Talking Stick Resort Arena and once again restore it to a world-class facility.
Robert Sarver: In addition, it is important for the Phoenix Suns to build a first-class practice facility, so the players of the Suns and the Phoenix Mercury can continue to develop. I am 100 percent all-in in keeping this team right here where we stand. And I want to make sure that message comes across crystal clear to every single one of you. Thank you.
The prospect of Sarver moving the Suns out of Phoenix has already seemed to backfire for Sarver. Instead of being taken seriously, ESPN’s The Jump turned Thursday’s Suns segment into a public roasting of Sarver with Van Gundy bringing the heat. Van Gundy said: “The question isn’t are Seattle and Las Vegas realistic options for the Suns. The question is when’s Robert Sarver gonna bring an NBA team to Phoenix?”
Splash one arena deal. Phoenix Mayor Thelda Williams and Councilwomen Laura Pastor and Debra Stark have asked for a postponement of this afternoon’s City Council vote on whether to spend $150 million upgrading the Suns arena. This, because the deal will go down in defeat if it’s put to a vote. Whether they get a continuance or not could mark the beginning of a showdown between the city and Suns owner Robert Sarver, who is telling some council members that he will take the team to Seattle or Las Vegas.
The Phoenix City Council is expected to delay a vote on a $230 million Talking Stick Resort Arena renovation following backlash from the community. The council was slated to vote on the deal, which could keep the Phoenix Suns in downtown until 2042, Wednesday afternoon. But the council will now likely vote to delay the final vote until Jan. 23, allowing Mayor Thelda Williams to host two additional community meetings to solicit feedback before the council decision, according to city sources. The Suns have been asking the city for a new or significantly updated arena for years, but have been unable to get the council to publicly consider a deal until now.
So hearing about the proposed renovation project for the Suns’ arena sounds good to him even though the city will have to shell out $150 million upfront. “Everything costs money, bro,” said Govan, 43, before Monday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers. “It’s not like we expect to go out and get it done for free. Is it the best spent taxpayers money? Not really, but I’m all about the Suns. I’ve been waiting for a winning season for a long time. Whatever helps them win, I’m all about it.” The City Council will vote on the proposal Wednesday in its 2:30 p.m. meeting, the council’s last session of the year. A week ago, Suns team owner Robert Sarver met one-on-one with the council members.
It becomes clearer and clearer why the city of Phoenix is rushing this week to shell out $150 million to upgrade the Suns arena, springing it on citizens only after the deal was secretly cut. Nearly 66 percent of Phoenix voters polled oppose the plan. Not that anybody over at city hall or in the Suns’ executive suite cares.
Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver has been looking to replace or renovate Talking Stick Resort Arena for several years. But that talk exploded into action last month, after Kate Gallego crushed the competition in the four-way Phoenix mayor election. Within days, Gallego, the odds-on favorite to win the March runoff, announced that “spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a huge renovation for the Phoenix Suns is not a priority for me.” Thus, the urgency to get this deal done Wednesday, during the City Council’s last meeting of the year.
The plan was unveiled on Thursday after Sarver met one-on-one with every council member and the votes already were lined up to pass it. If those votes don’t waver – and there are indications that some council members are getting cold feet – the deal calls for the city to spend $150 million on upgrades and the Suns to kick in another $80 million. (With interest, the city’s tab would be $233 million to $247 million over 17 to 18 years.) The city also would put another $25 million into a fund for future upgrades over the next 15 years, with the Suns kicking in half that amount.
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton is expected to announce Tuesday that he supports pursuing a deal to build a new downtown sports and entertainment arena that would be shared by the Phoenix Suns and the Arizona Coyotes. According to sources who have reviewed the mayor’s planned remarks, Stanton will outline his vision for building a new taxpayer-funded arena during his fifth State of the City speech. The mayor is scheduled to speak before a crowd of hundreds of business and political leaders at the Sheraton Grand Phoenix hotel in downtown about noon.
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September 19, 2019 | 7:44 pm EDT Update
The Heat, with one training camp roster spot to fill, recently summoned a familiar face to team headquarters: former Arkansas point guard Daryl Macon. Macon, undrafted after being second-team All-SEC in 2018, spent summer league with the Heat in 2018 but afterward opted to sign a two-way deal with Dallas that summer instead of an Exhibit 10 contract with Miami. … He has emerged as a strong possibility for the 20th and final roster spot, though others haven’t completely been ruled out.
September 19, 2019 | 6:07 pm EDT Update
The NBA power brokers descending on New York this week for the league’s Board of Governors meeting have reacted to the league’s beefed-up anti-tampering proposal with a mix of skepticism about its potential deterrent effect and concerns of privacy. In conversations with numerous league officials, team owners, general managers and agents, there’s some uncertainty about the means the NBA might use to investigate alleged rules violations. Atop those concerns for team officials are what league sources insist was Commissioner Adam Silver toughest decision in bringing new rules to a vote: An annual, random auditing of five teams’ communications with rival front offices and player agents.
Some teams believe that the league is rushing the process of changing the rules. In reaction to the blatant disregard of free agent tampering rules and an angry owner’s meeting in July, NBA owners are faced with a vote on Friday that could reshape — even if only in mechanics — how the business of player procurement is done.
The push to strengthen tampering rules — including a huge increase in the amounts of potential fines — was born out of a historic free agent period that witnessed several stars change teams in an acrimonious climate. The recruitment of Kawhi Leonard became fraught with charges that his uncle and advisor, Dennis Robertson, requested benefits outside the boundaries of the salary cap, league sources said.
Small-market teams, fearing the free agency allure of big-city rivals, may line up to support the league’s proposal on Friday – as well as teams embittered by recent free agency defections. Those who vote against the new measures risk the perception that they condone cheating, even if other reasons colored their decision. Even so, teams and league officials will address questions about privacy and the specifics of enforcement.