Suns incorporating changes to arena renovations with COVID-19 in mind
PHOENIX — In a weird way, the Phoenix Suns were presented a unique opportunity given the timing of the COVID-19 outbreak and their renovations to Talking Stick Resort Arena.
With a majority of the space starting from scratch outside of the foundation, they were placed in a position to seamlessly put in place more precautions and safety measures for the virus.
Instead of that being something that’s just in the back of the organization’s mind, they have already been heavily discussing those changes and are fully open to them.
“What we’re looking at is technology and how we can utilize technology to improve that sanitation level,” Suns president and CEO Jason Rowley said Tuesday. “Make people more comfortable with maybe going cashless … making sure your escalators have UV lighting that kills viruses and bacteria and all those things … hiring outside professionals who can come in and do audits of the building to make sure that any high touchpoints (can be safer).”
That even goes as far as putting down antimicrobial paint, which makes it more difficult for things to stick and bacteria to linger. Rowley credited discussions the Suns have had around the league, where every team is focusing on how they can make the building safer once fans eventually return.
“It’s certainly in the short term and so it’s something that we’re taking very, very seriously,” Rowley said.
The question of when fans are back, of course, remains in the air, let alone when NBA basketball comes back without them.
The Suns have spent this off-time preparing and having contingency plans in place for different variations of how and when they return.
As for how that has halted the renovations they got underway in late April, it hasn’t.
Rowley said there was never a thought of pausing renovations due to the virus.
“If it did anything it gave us the opportunity to be confident that we would be ready to go by next season,” he said.
That “ready to go” will be 60% of the renovations done this summer and the rest finished next summer, and the Suns obviously feared potential snags the renovations could hit that would jeopardize their timeline.
Now, with the Suns finishing the rest of their season at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum if necessary, along with the 2020-21 season likely being pushed back, they have a nice cushion.
“As our schedule changes, we can potentially adapt,” Rowley said. “If we’re able to move up certain components of the construction, we’ll work with those guys and figure out how to best do that.
“Obviously, the sooner you’re done, the better. If we have to still move stuff to next summer, we’ll do that, but we’re gonna keep all those options open.”
It’s been smooth sailing. Rowley also said the city of Phoenix itself has not discussed making changes to funding or the contract.
So, while all the world has is uncertainty at the moment, the Suns can at least find their own certainty in one of the biggest projects they’ve undergone as a franchise going well during difficult times.