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City of Phoenix being sued for hiding arena renovation concepts with Suns

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Local developer suing Phoenix to open the books.

Sacramento Kings v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Well, the Suns aren’t ready to start winning just yet.

While this month’s NBA Draft Lottery and next month’s draft will inevitably change the course of Phoenix Suns basketball for decades to come, there’s still some off the court business that needs to be ironed out. The Suns need a place to play.

Well, I mean, they have a place to play. But it’s a dump according to many very wealthy people who would prefer to not spend their hard earned dollars on renovations or a new arena. So Phoenix and the Suns are exploring the possibility of giving Talking Stick Resort Arena a facelift. It is not going well.

Phoenix and the Suns don’t want you to know what they’re talking about. And the city is getting slapped with a lawsuit because of it.

Talks about renovating 26-year-old TSRA have been ongoing for about a year. The City Council shelled out $200,000 to have a sports consultant explore the idea.

That much we know. But most of the conversations that revolve around the proposed renovations are not accessible to the public. Developer Bramley Paulin didn’t like that, so he filed a public records request. Here’s what he asked for:

“All feasibility reports, concept reports or consultant studies prepared by or provided to the city by the Phoenix Suns or the Arizona Coyotes pertaining to the purchase, lease or renovations of the Talking Stick (Resort) Arena or any other sports facility, including any draft conceptual renovation information provided to the city by the Suns.”

He got nothing. So he went and got himself some legal representation. The Goldwater Institute and Phoenix-area attorney Alexander Kolodin will represent Paulin in the lawsuit that was filed at Maricopa County Superior Court on Tuesday.

The city is claiming that because a non-disclosure agreement was signed they are not subject to Arizona’s public records law. Kolodin disagrees.

“The public has a right to know what’s going on so they can have a say in the process,” he said.

Phoenix spokeswoman Julie Watters says the city has good reasons for what they’re doing. She claims the Suns “have shared confidential documents with the city that describe the conceptual scope of proposed renovations and cost estimates.”

“Generally, state law protects the procurement and negotiation process of public-works projects — like renovations of the city-owned (Talking Stick Resort Arena) — against public-records requests until a final contract has been awarded. When negotiations conclude, the procurement/negotiation file would be available as a public record,” Watters said.

The Suns have nothing to say on the matter. The Coyotes made a statement to declare that there will be no statement.

“We are not a party to this lawsuit and cannot comment on something we have never seen nor know anything about.”