Loss of Talking Stick Resort Arena would leave ‘a giant hole’ downtown, hearing told

Disclosure: Rose Law Group represents the Phoenix Suns 

Importance of community events stressed

By Rose Law Group staff

About 30 people attended the third community meeting Tuesday about the renovation of Phoenix-owned Talking Stick Resort Arena (TSRA), with 10 testifying in favor and three against.

The same speakers who spoke against the project at the past two community meetings spoke at Tuesday’s meeting.

Phoenix Economic Development Director Christine Mackay explained that the proposal to renovate the 27-year-old arena would occur through a joint agreement with a contribution from the Phoenix Suns and the tourist tax that has been in place since 1989.

She also spoke of the importance of a strong downtown. The building needs essential upgrades to continue to host not only the Suns games, which account for only 30 percent of the arena events, but all the cultural, concert and other entertainment shows the arena can attract.

Chris Kaufman from Helping Hands for Single Moms said he is one of hundreds of non- profit organizations the Suns have been helping. Kaufman spoke about how Suns owner Robert Sarver personally came to visit the organization and “what the Phoenix Suns are doing is making a difference in these families lives.”

Wil Holton told the meeting he is glad to see that some of the money from the deal would go to the police and fire departments. Denise Olson, the city’s chief financial officer said, “tax comes from tourists, but the money that comes back into the city from the arena goes to pay for police and fire.”

Suns president and CEO Jason Rowley was questioned about the needed repairs and reinforcement to the leaking roof to make it more stable. He said a lot of concerts now want their performers or staging to hang from ceilings.

Other remarks*

Karl Gentles called the deal a “no brainer.”

“I wish I had a rental property like this, with a tenant who will make you money. I appreciate the foresight of the city to do this deal to make the renovations necessary. After we’ve enjoyed the facility for 30 years, we have to make the repairs.”

Charles Lotzar: “From my vantage point, to be a world class city you have to have world-class facilities. I want to see that momentum continue and have active growth. I’m concerned if we don’t come through with the Suns, we have a big hole in the middle of our city. [E]verybody sitting in this room doesn’t pay for this arena.“

Mayor Thelda Williams echoed the importance of downtown: “The whole downtown has come about because of the Suns.”

Tuesday’s meeting was held at the Community Center at Pinnacle Peak and 35th Avenue.

*Rose Law Group apologizes for any misspelling of names.