City explains tourist tax for renovations to Talking Stick Resort Arena

Corroded and rusty, leaky pipe (Left). Clogged waste pipe (Right).


Disclosure: Rose Law Group represents the Phoenix Suns.

The City of Phoenix has launched a website,, which provides information and updates about the status of Talking Stick Resort Arena. The website provides information regarding the economic impact of the city-owned arena. The city is the building’s landlord and the Suns operate and maintain the building for the city. Funding for the arena’s upkeep is drawn from the Sports Facilities Fund which is composed of excise taxes on hotel rooms and rental cars, specifically derived from tourists.

Over the arena’s entire history, the Suns have contributed $300 million in operating expenses. The arena has hosted 40 million guests. The arena hosts more than 300 events per year, more than 200 of those are non-ticketed community and charitable events for youth sports and non-profit organizations. On July 1, 2019 the Suns would be able to invoke the current contract’s obsolescence clause. If an arbitrator finds that the nearly 30 year-old arena is obsolete the city must then assume responsibility for all necessary improvements by 2023. the Arena’s infrastructure (plumbing, mechanical, electrical, roof and structural) is now nearly 30 years old, it must be replaced.

City management recently proposed a new agreement between the city and the operator to renovate the building and commit the team to stay in downtown Phoenix until at least 2037. The city’s website has attached details of the proposed agreement. The city will host 5 public meetings in January and will provide residents an opportunity learn about the agreement. The Arena generates $335 million of annual direct, indirect, and induced impact for the city of Phoenix, Maricopa County and the state of Arizona.

~Thomas Galvin