Will A New Owner Move The NBA’s Phoenix Suns To A Different Locale?

Phoenix is a good NBA market,

A strange statement came out of Phoenix as the National Basketball Association’s Phoenix Suns vice chairman Sam Garvin told the Arizona Republic newspaper that present owner Robert Sarver is hoping to sell the basketball franchise to someone who will not move the business. “I think he really wants to find someone who loves Arizona, wants to keep the team in Arizona and is committed to the fans and is committed to the community. I think he’ll do a good job on the sale.” Phoenix is a good-sized TV market with about 2.16 million homes. Phoenix is bigger than Seattle, a city looking for an NBA franchise, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Detroit, Denver, Orlando and Miami to name a few cities that have NBA franchises. The Suns franchise has tremendous local government support. The Phoenix arena was built for basketball and is capacity challenged for other events because of thousands of bad seats. The Phoenix city council in January 2019 signed a deal with Sarver to renovate the arena with the city picking up $150 million of the $230 million tab. Sarver committed to keep the business in Phoenix through at least 2037. However if Sarver or the new owner wanted to leave the building prior to 2037, Sarver or the new owner would have to pay a $200 million fine. Sarver threatened to move his team in 2018 to Los Angeles or Las Vegas without a new or renovated building and made clear he did not want the local National Hockey League franchise to play in his renovated arena.

On September 13th, the NBA suspended Sarver for one year and fined him $10 million for creating a hostile workplace environment. About a week later Sarver put the Suns and the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury on the market claiming he did not want to become a distraction.

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