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Suns president: Would not foreclose on idea of sharing arena with Coyotes

LISTEN: Jason Rowley, Suns president

The Arizona Coyotes need a new arena.

The Phoenix Suns are not excited about their aging building.

In a lot of ways it seems like a match made in heaven, as many cities across the country have NBA and NHL teams share the same venue.

Yet, reports have said there is a reluctance — at least from the Suns’ side of things — to collaborate on a building, and last week Coyotes president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc said they would like to have the opportunity to have that discussion with Valley’s NBA franchise as their tenure at Gila River Arena in Glendale nears its somewhat forced end.

Speaking with Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Tuesday as part of Newsmakers Week, Suns president Jason Rowley said currently the organization runs and maintains Talking Stick Resort Arena, but that the building is owned by the city of Phoenix.

Looking toward the future, he said the goal is to work with the city to find the best solution possible.

“Both for our investment and for the investment the taxpayers may make relative to the building they own, because that building is owned by the city,” he said.

To that end, some may see a joint venture with the Coyotes, or at least a situation where the hockey team is a tenant in an arena that is managed by the Suns, as the way to go for both franchises.

Rowley was hesitant to talk about how a hypothetical relationship with the Coyotes would work, but noted he understands why the concept would arise.

“It’s clearly something that a lot of people have a lot of interest in, as do we,” he said. “But our position is we want to make sure that we are making the best decisions possible in the long-term, taking all the facts in that we need to take in to consider.

“Would we foreclose the possibility of ever being in a building with the Coyotes? No, but at the same time, we know what building we have, we know what that building could potentially be turned into with maybe some significant dollars for a remodel to get to the position of being, essentially, a new building, as compared to going out and scrapping it, abandoning a building out in Glendale that has had a lot of money put into it over the years.”

Talking Stick Resort Arena, which has also gone by US Airways Center and originally America West Arena, opened in 1992. It underwent nearly $70 million in renovations in 2003, which was when the Coyotes moved out and into Gila River Arena (then Arena).

But from 1996 until 2003, the Coyotes and Suns shared a home, albeit one that was not at all conducive to watching hockey. The arena’s basketball-designed dimensions led to large portions of the rink being obstructed from view in the upper deck, and knowing that, it would seem unlikely any kind of renovation to TSR Arena would make things work for hockey again.

It’s possible that in time, the solution for both franchises may be to join up in a new facility. It also may not work out that way, but regardless, Rowley said there are a lot of factors that must be weighed when going down this road, including the community, city and various private interests who are involved.

“It’s a very thorny topic and one that, candidly, to have the discussion out over the media or in the public before there’s enough clarity internally to make the right decisions, I think is dangerous,” he said.

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