It’s a busy year for Arizona sports as the Phoenix Suns get the first draft pick for the first time in franchise history. Plus, sports betting has become legal, the Diamondbacks are looking for a new stadium and a new pro-football league is coming to town.
Suns get first draft pick
The Suns finished this season with the worst record in the NBA with 21 wins and 61 losses. As a compensation for being the worst team currently in the league, they were given the first overall draft pick.
“It was a great moment for the organization,” ASU Sports Journalism Professor Paola Boivin says. “I don’t think they’ve been in the post-season since 2010-2011, but they are finally building that necessary framework.”
When it comes to who the Suns are going to pick, Boivin says they’re being coy for a reason. The prediction is that the team will go with the University of Arizona’s Deandre Ayton. Boivin says the 7’1″ center would be a great complement to Devin Booker and Josh Jackson.
Diamondbacks get the okay to look for new stadium
The Diamondbacks have been complaining about needed renovations to their home stadium – Chase Field in downtown Phoenix – for some time now. The county, which owns the stadium, has persistently told the team no – until now. The two sides have reached an agreement that allows the team to look at other stadiums.
Related: Arizona Diamondbacks start looking for a new stadium as feud with county ends
“I think they’ve been looking for awhile,” Boivin says. “When we have tribal land nearby, those conversations will come up. It’s hard to get a stadium built these days… I’m just hearing they’re looking. I don’t think it’s a for-sure thing with this group.”
Supreme Court throws sports betting laws out the window
Boivin says the removal of sports betting laws has been a long time coming now. The landscape of sports has been changing, especially since Las Vegas got a hockey team and now there’s talk of a football team, she says.
“Arizona gets complicated because of the compacts the state has with the Native American community…,” Boivin says. “I think we will see changes not only in Arizona obviously, but in the U.S. There will be people being able to bet out in the open instead of behind scenes.”
Boivin predicts that sports betting will also be beneficial to the leagues because it will attract people back to their television screens.
The Alliance League is a new pro-football team coming to Arizona. There will be about eight or 10 teams and the season will begin about a week after the Super Bowl. The league does have the opportunity to be successful as it has money backing it and a television contract, Boivin says.
The indoor football league will be playing at Sun Devil Stadium.
TED SIMONS: GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO ARIZONA HORIZON. TED SIMONS. THE SUNS GET THE TOP PICK IN THE NBA DRAFT AND THE DIAMONDBACKS GET THEIR WISH TO START LOOKING FOR A NEW STADIUM. SPORTS BETTING GETS THE GO-AHEAD FROM THE U.S. SUPREME COURT AND THERE'S A NEW PRO FOOTBALL TEAM IN TOWN. LOTS TO TALK ABOUT WITH ASU SPORTS JOURNALISM PROFESSOR PAOLA BOIVN. GOOD TO SEE YOU.
PAOLA BOLVIN GOOD TO SEE YOU, TED.
TED SIMONS: EVERYONE IS TALKING ABOUT IT. THEY FINALLY HAD SOMETHING GOOD HAPPEN TO THE SUNS. NUMBER ONE OVERALL PICK.
PAOLA BOLVIN: I SWEAR I COULD HEAR THE COLLECTIVE GASP WHEN THEY GOT THE PICK. IT'S BEEN 49 OR 50 YEARS SINCE THEY LOST THE COIN FLIP FOR LUOL CINDER AND IT'S BEEN DOWNHILL SINCE. IT WAS A GREAT MOMENT FOR THE ORGINZATION. THEY HAVEN’T THE POST SEASON SINCE 2010 OR 11. BUT, THEY ARE BUILDING THE NECESSARY FRAMEWORK.
TED SIMONS: WHO DO YOU EXPECT THE TEAM TO PICK?
PAOLA BOLVIN: THEY ARE BEING VERY COY, UNDERSTANDABLY. I CAN'T IMAGINE THEM NOT TAKING D'ANDRE AYTON OUT OF ARIZONA. TO HAVE A TRUE CENTER A 7’1”GUY WITH A GREAT TOUCH, WHO CAN MOVE, WHO’S ATHLETIC TO COMPLIMENT DEVIN BOOKER AND JOSH JACKSON WHO I THINK FANS SHOULD BE EXCITED ABOUT AS WELL. IT JUST MAKES SENSE TO ME.
TED SIMONS: IT SOUNDS LIKE SUNS FANS REALLY WANT AYTON TO THE POINT WHERE THEY'LL BE RIOTING IN THE STREETS IF THEY DON'T TAKE HIM.
PAOLA BOLVIN: PROBABLY. YOU KNOW MARVIN BAGLEY IS SOMEONE WHO’S LOCAL SO THAT MIGHT HELP IF THEY HAPPENED TO GO IN THAT DIRECTION WHICH I DON’T THINK THEY WILL. BUT YEAH, THE OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE A BIG MAN LIKE THAT DOESN'T COME ALONG VERY OFTEN. THEY SORT OF HAVE FAILED IN PAST ATTEMPTS.
TED SIMONS: HE DOMINATED IN COLLEGE, AYTON DID, BUT THE NBA THAT’S A DIFFERENT BEAST.
PAOLA POLVIN: IT IS, BUT I THINK WHEN YOU HEAR THE BUZZ ABOUT HIM FROM PEOPLE IN THE NBA AND THE SCOUTS AND THE G.M.S, THEY LEGITIMATELY SEE THE UPSIDE IN THE SKY, AND IT COULD BE HYPERBOLE, BUT THERE'S A REASON HE'S OUT AND THERE’S A REASON WHY HE WAS NUMBER ONE.
TED SIMONS: LAST QUESTION ON THE SUNS, THE THOUGHT ON THE NBA DRAFT PROCESS, WHERE YOU KNOW, LETS FACE IT, TEAMS ARE TANKING OUT THERE. THEY ARE LOSING ON PURPOSE TO TRY GET THESE DRAFT PICKS. IS THAT THE BEST WAY TO RUN A AIRLINE HERE?
PAOLA BOLVIN: NO, AND ITS AN UGLY SIDE OF THE NBA BECAUSE THEY DENY DOING IT BUT THEY KNOW THAT ARE DOING IT. IT'S HARD TO FIND A HAPPY MEDIUM BECAUSE IN SOMEWAY YOU’RE REWARDING THESE BAD TEAMS TO GET ANY KIND OF PARODY, YOU HAVE TO DO SOMETHING SIMILAR. I DON'T THINK ANYONE HAS COME UP WITH A BETTER OPTION.
TED SIMONS: DIAMONDBACKS STRIKE A DEAL WITH MARICOPA COUNTY, THE COUNTY IS OUT OF THE STADIUM BUSINESS. DIAMONDBACKS GET TO RUN THE STADIUM BUT THEY ALSO GET TO RUN A NEW ONE. WHAT ARE YOU -- ARE THEY REALLY LOOKING AROUND FOR A NEW STADIUM?
PAOLA BOLVIN: OH I MEAN, I THINK THEY HAVE BEEN FOR A WHILE. WHEN WE HAVE TRIBAL LAND NEARBY, THERE ARE ALWAYS THOSE CONVERSATIONS WE HEAR. IT'S HARD TO GET A STADIUM BUILT THESE DAYS. AND NOT ONLY THE FINANCING, BUT THERE’S A LOT OF VOTING AND POLITICAL ISSUES THAT HAVE TO GO AROUND. I'M JUST HEARING THEY ARE LOOKING. BUT, I DON'T THINK IT'S A SURE THING WITH THIS GROUP.
TED SIMONS: IT SOUNDS LIKE, RENOVATING BANK, OR CHASE FIELD I MEAN, WHATEVER THEY ARE CALLING IT THESE DAYS, RENOVATION WOULD MAKE A HECK OF A LOT MORE FINANCIAL SENSE.
PAOLA BOLVIN: IT CERTAINLY DOES FOR THE FANS. BEACAUSE, WE DON'T SEE THIS -- THE BUILDING FALLING APART HAS BEEN SUGGESTED. I KNOW THAT THERE ARE COSMETIC CHANGES THAT NEED TO BE MADE. BUT YOU HAVE THIS FACILITY RIGHT HERE IN DOWNTOWN, IT SEEMS TO MAKE SENSE.
TED SIMONS: DO YOU MAYBE THINK THE DIAMONDBACKS AND SUNS COULD DO A JOINT VENTURE?
PAOLA BOLVIN: THERE IS TALK ABOUT THE SUNS, NAME THE TEAM THE COYOTES. MOST TEAMS DON'T LIKE TO DO THAT BECAUSE THEY DON'T LIKE TO SHARE REVENUE. AND THAT’S KEPT THE SUNS FROM MAKING DEALS WITH A LOT OF DIFFERENT TEAMS.
TED SIMONS: ALRIGHT, THE SUPREME COURT SAYS THAT THESE PREVIOUS LAWS THAT KEPT STATES LIKE ARIZONA FROM DOING SPORTS BETTING AND SPORTS GAMBLING, THOSE LAWS ARE OUT THE WINDOW. IF ARIZONA SO CHOOSES, WE COULD SEE SPORTS GAMBLING HERE. THE OVERALL PICTURE, MAYBE ARIZONA IN PARTICULAR, YOUR THOUGHTS ON ALL OF THIS?
PAOLA BOLVIN: IT WAS A LONG TIME COMING IN THIS COUNTRY. WE USED TO HEAR IN THE NFL WE WOULD NEVER ALLOW GAMBLING. ALL OF A SUDDEN THERE IS A HOCKEY TEAM IN VEGAS. THERE’S A FOOTBALL TEAM COMING TO VEGAS. THE WHOLE LANDSCAPE HAS CHANGED AND ARIZONA GETS COMPLICATED BECAUSE OF THE COMPACTS THAT STATE HAS WITH THE NATIVE AMERICAN COMMUNITY AND WHAT KIND OF GAMBLING AND BETTING THEY'LL ALLOW. I THINK WE'LL SEE CHANGES, NOT ONLY IN ARIZONA, BUT IN THE U.S. THERE ARE PEOPLE BEING ABLE TO BET IN THE OPEN INSTEAD OF DOING IT BEHIND THE SCENES.
TED SIMONS: WILL THAT INCREASE THE POPULARITY OF SPORTS, IT’S ALREADY POPULAR, BUT COULD IT EVEN RAMP IT UP FURTHER?
PAOLA BOLVIN: ABSOLUTELY AND THAT’S WHY YOU ARE HAVING THE LEAGUES HAVE ISSUES WITH THIS BECAUSE IT IS FORCING PEOPLE WHO ARE LEAVING THEIR T.V. SETS AND WATCHING OTHER THINGS TO GO BACK AND SEE HOW THEIR TEAM IS DOING. IT'S KIND OF DIRTY IN SOME WAYS. BUT IT IS PROBABLY GOING HELP THE LEAGUE.
TED SIMONS: YEAH WE WILL SEE HOW FAR THAT GOES. FINALLY, WE HAVE A NEW PRO FOOTBALL TEAM? WHAT'S THIS ALL ABOUT?
PAOLA BOLVIN THE ALLIANCE LEAGUE. IT’S GONNA BE INTERESTING. WE HAVE SEEN A LOT OF THESE LEAGUES POP UP, TED BUT THIS ONE HAS A LOT OF MONEY BEHIND IT. IT HAS AN EBERSOL WHICH HAS THE CBS NAME SO THERE'S THAT. THEY ARE DOING SOME NEW THINGS.ARIZONA IS GOING TO ANNOUNCE ITS COACH TOMORROW. THERE ARE CRAZY NAMES LIKE TODD GRAHAM, RICK NEW HIEZLE. I DON’T KNOW IF ANY OF THEM ARE TRUE BUT THEY HAVE MY INTEREST.
TED SIMONS: YOU HAVE EIGHT TEAMS, IT STARTS THE WEEKND AFTER THE SUPER BOWL, SOMETHING ALONG THOSE LINES, CAN IT SUCCEED?
PAOLA BOLVIN: IF YOU HAVE MONEY AND A TELEVISION CONTRACT, YOU ARE GIVING THEM THE OPPORTUNITY. I LOVE THE FACT THAT THEY ARE NO OFFENSE TO KICKERS, BUT THEY ARE TAKING KICKING OUT OF THE GAME. WE HAVE SEEN THE INDOOR LEAGUES SURVIVE. THIS COULD BE SOMETHING DIFFERENT.
TED SIMONS: AND THEY ARE GOING TO PLAY AT SUN DEVIL STADIUM. THAT’S INTERESTING THAT THEY WOULD ALLOW THAT THERE.
PAOLA BOLVIN: ASU, THEY HAVE DECIDED TO MAKE IT A YEAR AROUND FACILITY. THEY ARE OPEN TO THINGS A LOT MORE THAN JUST FOOTBALL.
TED SIMONS: AND BEFORE YOU GO, MERCURY? GETTING READY TO GO HERE, WHAT'S GOING ON WITH THEM?
PAOLA BOLVIN: THEY ARE. IT’S EXCITING I MEAN ANYTIME YOU HAVE BRITTNEY GRINER AND DIANA TAURASI BACK IN THE FOLD, THEY’RE ALWAYS GOING TO BE A CONTENDER. THIS IS THE YEAR A LOT OF PEOPLE THINK TAURASI WILL STEP AWAY AFTER THE SEASON. I HAVE NO IDEA IF THAT IS THE CASE. BUT, IT'S A GOOD YEAR TO WATCH.
TED SIMONS: MAN, IT’S ALSO A GOOD YEAR TO BE A SPORTS FAN. THERE IS A LOT GOING ON.
PAOLA BOLVIN: ABSOLUTELY.
TED SIMONS: GOOD TO HAVE YOU HERE. THANKS FOR JOINING US, WE APPRECIATE IT.
Paola Boivin: Professor, ASU Sports Journalism