While Talking Stick Resort Arena undergoes a transformation downtown, a little way to the east the Suns’ new practice facility is fully under construction.
A Suns representative tells me the building is still expected to be completed by late July or early August, at which point it will open up to the players if that is allowed due the pandemic conditions at the time.
The Suns have not developed a plan yet to return to any facility for individual workouts, even at the Madhouse on McDowell while TSRA is under construction.
Dozens of workers were working on Tuesday, still finishing the shell of the facility. Nothing resembling a court or lockers could be seen, but it was still impressive to see how quickly the walls had gone up.
Not to get too corny here, but anything resembling promise as it relates to the NBA was cool to see. Of course, you hope no one on the site gets sick, but construction crews are as technically sophisticated as they come, and they’re so covered up and naturally distanced that I wouldn’t worry.
They get this beautiful view next to them every day, and soon, the Suns’ staff will get to enjoy it, too.
The NBA will allow teams starting Friday to return to their facilities assuming state guidelines allow it, but Gov. Doug Ducey did not change guidelines for gyms or workout facilities when he updated the state’s stay-home order on Monday. As a result, the Suns still do not have any firm plan for when or how they will begin to orchestrate workouts.
When that time comes, they will face a challenge. Currently, the practice facility is nowhere near inhabitable yet, and the arena is torn to shreds. The practice court and training room beneath the arena are where the Suns would typically workout at a time like this, but both are being removed or shrunken as part of the renovations.
The Suns would likely practice at Veterans Memorial Coliseum, aka the Madhouse at McDowell, when they take the court again. They also could get creative and perhaps work out an agreement with Arizona State University or a place like the PHH Facility in south Phoenix, a professional gym with two full courts, bleachers, and locker rooms, where draft workouts and AAU competitions are aplenty.
More details will surely follow as we near May 15, at which point Ducey said the stay-at-home order is likely to expire and be replaced by looser guidelines on a business-by-business basis. For now, the Suns are a team without a real home.
Apart from the Suns’ side of things, I was curious whether the Fox Restaurant Concepts development project announced by Robert Sarver when the organization broke ground on the practice facility was still a go. A Suns representative said the project is managed by a separate company and is not related to the construction of the practice facility. Currently, Steak 44 across the street remains open for takeout, but it’s hard to imagine Cheesecake Factory, which now owns Fox Restaurant Concepts, investing in a new restaurant given the tenuous state of the industry right now.
The completion of the practice facility can’t come soon enough, as the Suns search for answers regarding the finish to their season as well as what next season looks like.