Reports yesterday had Suns owner and overall dingus Robert Sarver threatening to relocate his shoddy-ass basketball operation to Las Vegas or Seattle if the city of Phoenix didn’t get behind a public financing plan to renovate the team’s current home. Also yesterday, Sarver was thrashed at a city council meeting by Phoenix-area baller Greta Rogers, so it’s been an eventful 24 hours.
Today Sarver responded to all this controversy with a video message, posted by the team’s Twitter account, where he reasserted his commitment to keeping the team in Phoenix:
None of this is binding, of course—Sarver could up and file paperwork to move his team to Turkmenistan tomorrow, with only the usual bureaucratic hurdles to stop him—but “first and foremost, the Phoenix Suns are not leaving Phoenix” is a pretty firm opening line. You will note that Sarver says he strongly believes “we” should renovate their current home and build a practice facility, but apparently not so strongly that he’s willing to put this debate to bed by paying for the damn upgrades himself.
As for the threat of relocation to some other city, there’s this:
That is the Suns official account block-quoting a line from this evening’s Arizona Republic report, wherein the unnamed council member who relayed Sarver’s alleged threat seems to have walked it all back. This new report says if the Suns can’t stay in downtown Phoenix, they will move no farther than elsewhere in the Valley. This raises all sorts of unpleasant images of the team building their next arena next to a butte somewhere out on the scorched desert—or, worse, Tempe—but that would certainly be a lot less traumatic for Suns fans than what was reported yesterday.
That council member, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Sarver didn’t actually name the two cities but that he made it clear that he would leave if the City Council doesn’t approve the arena deal. This, in a conversation that came as the votes were becoming shaky.
“He said, ‘If you guys are not going to vote for this, let me go, just let me go somewhere else,” the council member told me Thursday. “He said, ‘I want out. If you’re not going to build my stadium then I want out.’ He did not specifically say Seattle or Las Vegas but that was my understanding.”
So it sounds like Sarver did threaten to leave Phoenix, but to someplace else in Maricopa County, and not a whole other state. Meanwhile, Sarver says the Suns won’t even be going that far, of course so long as he and civic leaders can arrive at “a solution to keep them in downtown Phoenix,” the word “solution” here meaning more than a hundred million dollars in public money. This much is certain: whatever else happens, locals should continue viciously dunking on Sarver at public council meetings, at every opportunity.