Sarver Threatens To Move Suns To Seattle Or Vegas?

In the midst of a battle with the city of Phoenix over funding for arena renovations, Suns owner Robert Sarver has told some city council members that he’ll take the franchise to Seattle or Las Vegas if he can’t reach a deal in Phoenix, reports Laurie Roberts of The Arizona Republic.

As Jessica Boehm of The Arizona Republic outlines, the Phoenix City Council had been set to vote on a proposal that would see the city pay $150MM on a $230MM renovation plan for Talking Stick Resort Arena, with the Suns contributing the remaining $80MM. The deal would have also ensured that the Suns were committed to staying in Phoenix through at least 2037.

However, in the wake of “backlash from the community,” it appears that vote will be postponed. According to Roberts, delaying the vote will allow time for a pair of public hearings on the project, whereas if the Phoenix City Council shot down the proposal today, it might kill future prospects for a deal. There are seven city council members and at least three are currently opposing the arena renovation plan.

As Boehm explains, the Suns’ current arena lease runs through 2032, but that agreement includes a provision that would allow the franchise to opt out in 2022 if its building is considered “obsolete.” If the renovations are approved, they’d take place between 2019 and 2021, ensuring that the arena is modernized.

Given the nature of the situation, Sarver’s threats to move the franchise could simply be a way of regaining the upper hand and forcing city council members to seriously weigh the ramifications of turning down the funding plan for those arena renovations. If the Suns were to leave Phoenix, the city would have to take over operations and maintenance of Talking Stick Resort Arena, Boehm notes.

While the NBA reportedly has no plans for expansion in the next several years, there are several cities interested in a franchise, led by Seattle, which recently secured an NHL team. With relocation looking like the only viable way to get an NBA franchise to Seattle anytime soon, team owners seeking public funding for new arenas or arena upgrades may try to use the threat of a move to the Pacific Northwest as leverage during the next few years.

Taking that into account, I don’t know that we should take Sarver’s threats too seriously for now, and I wouldn’t expect the NBA to idly stand by if he attempts to move his team out of one of the country’s largest cities, but this is a situation worth watching closely going forward.

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30 thoughts on “Sarver Threatens To Move Suns To Seattle Or Vegas?

  1. acarneglia

    The Suns would rebrand if moved to Seattle and take on the Super Sonics moniker probably and could probably keep being the Suns in Vegas. Either of those 2 cities would be more than capable of supporting a team

  2. Good on the city for standing up. These Teams are owned by billionaires, and generate huge profits for them every year. Even the concept of taxpayer dollars propping up one single persons earning capacity, is ridiculous.

    • Dennid

      But many of the facilities are multi purpose and used for much more than NBA games.

  3. noahrnoahr

    Seatlle and Vegas should definitely have NBA teams, but Phoenix is not where those teams should move from.

    • Michael Chaney

      Agreed. Without having extensive knowledge of the finances involved, the Clippers and Kings seem like the most obvious candidates to relocate.

      • SheltonMatthews

        The Kings moved into a brand new arena last year. They aren’t going anywhere for a long time.

  4. Nebraska Tim

    Good for the people of Phoenix.

    It’s absolutely criminal that tax money ever goes toward the toys of billionaires.

  5. Sarver has turned the Suns into a joke. He’s in no position to ask for 150 million. Try having a few winning seasons in recent years before trying to flex.

  6. x%sure

    Vegas is too small and should stay that way. Plenty of better options. San Diego, Seattle, Louisville, San Juan, Birmingham, Kansas City/St.Louis, New Jersey

    Best name: the Vegas Watersuckers.

    • bballblk

      How is Vegas too small but Birmingham isn’t? Vegas is twice as big.

      • x%sure

        4.9 million people in Alabama, 3.0 in Nevada, and only 2 lane roads from the Reno area. The LV city population is deceiving.
        They do have UNLV there, and tournaments. While Tuscaloosa is only 58 miles away, Birmingham city is wide open to a national attraction.
        But the NBA would have to go to 40 teams to include them probably. Which is a good idea IMO but not likely.

    • ColossusOfClout

      Vegas is too small for the NBA, but perfectly fine for the NFL? LOL, don’t give up your day job.

      • x%sure

        And the Chargers can’t be from San Diego. No sense required from NFL owners.

  7. cesc

    NBA arenas employ thousands of people, bring big revenues to the cities… so any public money is better spent in there than in many other idiotic projects that useless politicians might decide

  8. desertdawg

    People get upset when taxpayer dollars are used to update stadiums and arena’s. But yet some of these same people are not upset when taxpayer dollars are given to support ILLEGAL ALIENS with medical, education, housing etc. Rather give taxpayer dollars to update something myself and my family would enjoy going to be entertain.

    • ColossusOfClout

      Didn’t the NBA already say NO to a renovated Key Arena?
      Las Vegas has a brand new NBA-ready arena right in the middle of the Strip, the Suns can move to immediately.

  9. Z-A

    Dont threaten me with a good time. Suns have been trash on top of trash for a decade.

  10. dunkerdutt

    $arver needs to go away. He is a slumlord that has destroyed the franchise. Perhaps it would be better if he moved? He can take this shell of a once great franchise and go…

    • seattleite

      Seattleites do not want this a–hole in town, and Seattle is even more set against public funding too. Be careful what you wish for. No more extortion from billionaires.

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