It's unclear whether the Phoenix City Council will follow through on plans to give $150 million to the city's professional basketball team, the Phoenix Suns, for stadium upgrades.
The team's owner, Robert Sarver, has threatened to leave town if the city doesn't kick in a significant portion of an estimated $230 million renovation of Talking Stick Resort Arena, where the team has played since 1992. But he's also promised that the team isn't going anywhere. The city council was supposed to vote on the massive subsidy last week, but then decided to kick the can until next month in the face of public opposition to the giveaway.
Regardless of the eventual outcome, though, the winner in this fight is pretty clearly Phoenix resident Greta Rogers, who went hard to the hole and posterized team owner Sarver and the entire city council for even considering a nine-figure handout to a professional basketball team worth billions.
"We are not in the business of paying taxes to support private enterprise, and especially not an entertainment enterprise," she said. "They can support themselves or fail on their own lack of diligence."
Here's the full video of her comments, which begin just after the 26-minute mark.
Rogers dunked hardest on Sarver, whom she described as a skinflint owner unwilling to open his wallet to land a big-name free agent or otherwise rebuild a team that's finished near the bottom of the league for most of the past decade—the Suns haven't made the playoffs since 2010 in a league where more than half the teams qualify each year. That's a stark contrast to where the team was in 2004, when Sarver bought the Suns for $400 million (they are worth an estimated $1.28 billion today). That same season, the Suns finished with the best record in the league and advanced to the brink of the NBA finals. After another deep playoff run in 2005, the team went into a long decline that shows little sign of ending anytime soon.
That's not all on Sarver. But he hasn't exactly ingratiated himself into the community, ether. In his book about those good Suns teams from the middle of the last decade, Sports Illustrated writer Jack McCallum recounts a story about how Sarver fired a Suns security guard and then "re-assigned" him because the guy did not recognize Sarver and turned him away from a staff-only entrance shortly after he bought the team. Oh, and there's been the ongoing attempts to fleece the people of Phoenix out of their money for new stadiums and stadium upgrades.
Rogers probably speaks for a good chunk of the Phoenix basketball-loving population when she throws an elbow at Sarver. Two-thirds of voters oppose the stadium scheme, according to a poll from the Arizona Republic newspaper, which has also been pretty critical of the idea.
In a piece published last week, Republic columnist Laurie Roberts suggests five ways the stadium deal could be improved. Top of the list? Cut the public's share of the stadium upgrade costs from two-thirds to one-third. That's a good idea. Here's a better one: Cut it from two-thirds to nothing.
Photo Credit: Manny Flores/Cal Sport Media/Newscom