Jim Pitman: “Mercury will have to find a temporary home” as Talking Stick Resort Arena is renovated

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These days, arenas are seemingly always a hot topic within WNBA circles and another team now finds itself in the throes of what will be a temporary relocation.

Phoenix Mercury general manager Jim Pitman did an interview on the Doug and Wolf Show on KMVP-FM Arizona Sports 98.7, where he gave an update on how the upcoming renovation of Talking Stick Resort Arena in downtown Phoenix will affect where the Mercury will play for the 2020 (CBA pending) and 2021 seasons.

The building will be under construction for two summers in 2020 and 2021 and the Mercury will have to find a temporary home.

–Jim Pitman, Mercury general manager (Doug & Wolf Show, KMVP-FM Arizona Sports 98.7)

After some doubts that the proposed renovation of Talking Stick Resort Arena would not be approved, the Phoenix City Council eventually approved $230 million in renovations.

The City of Phoenix agreed to put forth $150 million towards the project with the Phoenix Suns agreeing to put up $80 million as well as agreeing to cover any cost overruns.

While the renovation schedule will not affect the Mercury playing at Talking Stick Resort for this upcoming season, the home court of Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner, DeWanna Bonner, Yvonne Turner, and company for the following two seasons is up in the air.

Possibilities could include Wells Fargo Arena at Arizona State University in Tempe where the Mercury have played playoff games in the past. Grand Canyon University could also be an option if the Mercury are looking to stay within the Phoenix city limits. Gila River Arena in Glendale – the home of the much-beleaguered Arizona Coyotes of the NHL – may also be available.

We are in discussions now to find out where that home will be for the next two years but once the renovation is done and the new facility is built, it’s a home run for us.

–Jim Pitman, Mercury general manager (Doug & Wolf Show, KMVP-FM Arizona Sports 98.7)

Pitman says the Mercury will have their own locker at the renovated venue.

We are one of the original teams. There are only three of us who have been in the league for 22 years. We have played in the same building for 22 seasons. We are pretty fortunate that starting with Jerry Colangelo and transitioning to Robert Sarver, we have had great ownership leading the Mercury.

–Jim Pitman, Mercury general manager (Doug & Wolf Show, KMVP-FM Arizona Sports 98.7)

The situation mirrors recent temporary relocations that the Minnesota Lynx, Seattle Storm, and Atlanta Dream have encountered.

The Lynx were temporarily displaced from Target Center and played its home schedule at Xcel Energy Center – the home of the NHL’s Minnesota Wild – in St. Paul.

During the 2017 WNBA Finals, the Lynx played its home games at Williams Arena at the University of Minnesota and air conditioning had to be installed in the building to meet WNBA requirements. The team returned to Target Center last season, in time for the completion of its renovation project and in time to host the 2018 All-Star Game.

The Dream, after two seasons at McCamish Pavilion on the campus of Georgia Tech, will return to State Farm Arena (formerly Philips Arena) after that building completed a renovation project.

The former KeyArena is in the midst of a renovation effort led by the Tim Leiweke-led Oak View Group which has connections to Madison Square Garden, the entity that once owned the New York Liberty. The new arena will host an NHL team and possibly an NBA team as well. For the next two seasons, the Seattle Storm will be displaced from the venue and will split games this year between Alaska Airlines Arena on the campus of the University of Washington and Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett.

The Storm will be the first major sports tenant to open the new Seattle Center Arena and signed a lease with the City of Seattle where they will remain at the venue through 2028. The city will pay Force 10 Hoops, the Storm’s owners, $100,000 for each season they do not play at Seattle Center.

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