Plan Would Split Sin Tax Money Equally Among Cleveland Sports Facilities

Progressive Field before Opening Day in 2014.
Progressive Field before Opening Day in 2014. (File photo by Nick Castele / ideastream)
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by Nick Castele

Cuyahoga County and the city of Cleveland have agreed to an equal, three-way split of sin tax revenue to pay for upgrades to the city’s three major sports facilities. The proposal is being introduced in Cuyahoga County Council tonight.

The so-called “sin tax,” renewed by voters in 2014, is expected to raise about $260 million by 2035. This agreement between the city and county will allocate equal shares of that money for upgrades to Progressive Field, Quicken Loans Arena and FirstEnergy Stadium.

When the tax first passed in 1990, the money was used to pay off debt from the construction of a new Indians ballpark and new Cavaliers arena. It later helped fund the new Browns stadium. Lease agreements for the three facilities pledged ongoing taxpayer support.

Last year, the county agreed to put sin tax money toward $60.5 million in work on the Indians and Cavs’ two facilities—including new scoreboards. And there’s more work to come.

“A lot less glamorous than scoreboards, but now we’re getting into things like heating and cooling systems, concrete repair, eventually seat replacement,” said Tim Offtermatt, who chairs the board of Gateway Economic Development Corporation.

Gateway owns the Q and Progressive Field, while the city of Cleveland owns FirstEnergy Stadium.

Cuyahoga County Council plans to discuss the agreement at a committee meeting later this month.

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