City of Phoenix discusses renovation proposal for Talking Stick arena

PHOENIX (KSAZ) - The City of Phoenix is holding a series of public meetings to determine the future of renovations at Talking Stick Resort Arena.

"What I think we'd really like to get across to [the public] is this is a city owned building, has been funded since its original inception by tourist dollars," according to Christine Mackay, Director of Community and Economic Development for Phoenix.

The proposed renovation seeks $150 million from the city, and it would be paid for as it always has been - by tourism taxes. One percent comes from hotel rooms and two percent from rental cars.

"We see more than 90 percent of the revenue that funds this building comes from outside the state of Arizona," said Mackay.

The tourism tax then goes into the "Sports Facility Fund" which is used to pay the arena's capital expenses. Whatever is left over goes to police, fire, parks and other city services.

The renovation would not work any differently. There is no extra tax; it would be the same as it has been since the late 1980s. This was not clear and it is why some taxpayers initially opposed the renovation.

The arena generates $335 million of annual direct, indirect and induced impact for the city, a big reason for many supporters to accept the proposal.

"This is really a no-brainer with the revenue generated from this facility," said Phoenix resident Jon Hines. "I mean, we really need to spend the money."

The Suns basketball games only account for 30 percent of the activity in the arena. The other 70 percent are different sports, concerts, expos and other ticketed events. That's why Mackay says a renovation was necessary.

"It's a 27-year-old building, so much like your home when it reaches that 20 to 25 years old, it needs a new roof," explained Mackay. "The roof leaks, it has plumbing issues - the same challenges that we face in our house, which is 550,000 square feet and has seen 40 million visitors since its construction."

The next public meeting on the arena renovation proposal will take place Monday, January 7 at the Paradise Valley Community Center at 6 P.M.