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Phoenix voters won’t get a say on Suns’ arena deal

Common Sense Phoenix dropped its campaign on Tuesday.

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Orlando Magic v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Renovations to Talking Stick Resort Arena, home of the Phoenix Suns, will push forward without a vote from locals, the Arizona Republic confirmed this week.

Common Sense Phoenix, a group aiming to collect enough signatures to get the deal on a ballot in 2019, abandoned its quest on Tuesday. The arena renovation will cost $230 million.

“After careful consideration and long conversations with my clients, we have decided to pull the plug on our petition effort to refer the Phoenix Suns arena deal to the ballot,” Petition Partners owner Drew Chavez said in a statement.

“We thank the thousands of voters who signed the petitions over the past week. Rather than press ahead with a bitter conflict, we believe it is time for the city to move forward to more important issues and less partisan battles,” he said.

Attorneys for the city previously advised Common Sense Phoenix petitions could not be submitted to the city clerk as only “legislative acts” are subject to referendum. Conveniently, Phoenix does not consider the arena deal a “legislative act.”

A city official confirmed the upgrades will go on as planned. So what next? Here’s what’s next:

  • Phoenix pays $150 million for arena upgrades.
  • Suns chip in $80 million.
  • Phoenix pays $2 million every year for 12 ½ towards a new renewal and replacement fund. That goes towards future renovation needs.
  • Team pays $1 million into the new fund for 12 ½ years.
  • Suns are responsible for operating and maintaining the facility. They will book concerts and other events.
  • Suns will pay rent to Phoenix (based on a percentage of annual proceeds).
  • Suns will pay for a new practice facility (estimated to cost $25 million to $50 million)
  • Suns agree to keep downtown home through 2037. At that time team can extend the lease to 2042. Team can break the lease before 2037 but it could cost up to $200 million.

The Suns have played at Talking Stick Resort Arena since the facility opened as America West Arena in 1992.