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Suns arena plans ‘not figured out yet’, team president says

Phoenix Suns president Jason Rowley sits down with Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona's Sports Station as part of Newsmakers Week. (Matt Layman/Arizona Sports)
LISTEN: Jason Rowley, Suns President

Talking Stick Resort Arena opened in 1992 as a hub for the Phoenix Suns. Since, its named has changed thanks to three different sponsorships. It’s hosted minor-league hockey, soccer and arena football teams all while acting as a concert and entertainment venue.

Despite recent renovations, however, the Suns face the reality that their home needs updating. If not, the possibility Phoenix leaves the downtown venue remains a possibility.

Suns president Jason Rowley knows that determining the team’s future home is bigger than his NBA franchise.

“It’s a community amenity. So to me, it’s not really just what’s best for our organization. It’s working with the city leaders and working with the different stakeholders to identify ‘What’s the best solution?’ It hasn’t been figured out yet,” Rowley told Doug & Wolf Wednesday on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

Related: Suns VP of basketball ops James Jones sees fluid timeline

Rowley said the Suns can leave the arena in July 2022 if it is deemed obsolete. Otherwise, the NBA franchise will be locked into another 10 years at the arena.

“The reality is, we have a contract with the City of Phoenix. That deal has some trigger dates in it that a couple years ago seemed that they were years and years away but frankly are right on the horizon right now,” Rowley said.

As of the beginning of 2018, the Suns are considering all options.

Rowley said it’s possible the team can renovate its quarter-century-old arena, or look to build a new one.

“There really hasn’t been a whole lot of conversation between us and the Coyotes,” Rowley added of Arizona’s NHL team, which will need an arena solution much sooner.

“Obviously, like any business, our primary consideration is what we need to do for our organization moving forward,” the president said. “We’re frankly looking at any and all options that are available.

“There are so many pieces to an arena conversation that it’s very difficult to identify one thing that would either be a go-forward situation or one thing that would impact where you’re ultimately going to end up.”

Phoenix’s 41 home games a season at Talking Stick Resort Arena only make up 12 percent of the operating schedule for the building, Rowley said.

Still, he views the Suns as the stewards for a structure that has many stakeholders, users and beneficiaries. He hopes the technology available helps the team determine the right path forward to keep the Suns’ home as a part of the community.

“Talking Stick Resort Arena, you would think, ‘How could you take a building that’s 27 years old now and put in enough money to make it feasible and workable long-term given what fans’ expectations are, given where technology is heading, given where security needs are heading?'” Rowley said.

“These are all things that you have to be analyzing and you have to put all those pieces together, and you have to look at how you’re going to finance it.”

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