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Councilman Calls On Sports Teams To Boost Investments In Cleveland

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The recent sale of naming rights for Cleveland Browns Stadium to First Energy could net one hundred million dollars for the team. Some city officials say the deal should spark a conversation about how much money local sports teams invest back into the city. Ideastream’s Michelle Kanu reports.

Sunday, January 20, 2013 at 5:49 pm

When the city of Cleveland signed a lease with the Browns for the stadium back in 1996, the agreement gave the team 100% of all revenue from the stadium operations.

That means the team will pocket the 100 million dollars it will receive from First Energy over the next 17 years. None of that money goes to the city of Cleveland.

City councilman Brian Cummins says that doesn’t sit well with some of the residents he represents in Ward 14. He says he’s not mad at new team owner Jimmy Haslam for making a savvy business deal…

Cummins: “But, when you’re in a situation when we have furlough days two years in a row a couple years ago, and layoffs of police and fire—core critical services—we have to look at the equities of who’s paying for what, and who’s getting what services, and is it fair?”

Cummins says the city of Cleveland spent millions to build the stadium, and still has $134 million left to pay off. Plus, he adds, people in Cuyahoga County have paid millions through a so-called sin tax to cover maintenance for the stadium.

That tax on alcohol and cigarettes is set to expire in 2015, but there has been talk of renewing it.

Cummins: “If we go to voters for renewal, it’s not just about raising taxes, it’s about paying off and maintaining facilities that should be benefiting our city and our county.”

Cummins says if voters see more investments from Cleveland’s sports teams around the lakefront and other parts of the city, they might be more amenable to renewing the tax.

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