PHOENIX - The owner of the Phoenix Suns is threatening to move the NBA team to Seattle or Las Vegas amid an ongoing disagreement with the Phoenix City Council, according to the Arizona Republic and other media reports.
Laurie Roberts of the Arizona Republic reported Suns owner Robert Sarver threatened the move unless the council votes to contribute $150 million in public money to a renovation of Talking Stick Resort Arena in downtown Phoenix, where the team has played its home games since 1992.
The council originally was set to vote on the funding request Wednesday, but the vote was postponed after it became clear it would not pass due to backlash from the community, the newspaper reported. A survey by Marson Media and Data Orbital found that 66 percent of Phoenix voters oppose using public money on renovations to the arena, and only 20 percent approve of the idea.
Phoenix Mayor Thelda Williams now is asking the council to reschedule the vote on funding for next month, to allow time for more public hearings on the issue.
Part of the public backlash against the funding may stem from Sarver's management of the Suns, which has been considered one of the NBA’s worst-run franchises since he purchased the team in 2004.
Suns president and CEO Jason Rowley issued a statement affirming the franchise's desire to remain in Phoenix despite the vote being delayed until next month, according to ArizonaSports.com.
In the meantime, Sarver's threat to move the team to Seattle looms large over the negotiations. The Suns' current agreement with the city of Phoenix would allow the team to move out of town to some other city in 2022 if no new agreement can be reached
The threat to move also begs the question - would Seattle basketball fans even want a team run by Sarver, who has a reputation of cost-cutting and questionable hires?
Whether anything comes of Sarver's threat to move the team or not, Seattle can revel in the fact that the city has landed two other new sports franchises - a new NHL team scheduled to launch in 2021 and a new XFL team that would begin play in 2020.