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Quicken Loans Arena Deal Heads to Cleveland Council Finance Committee

Members of Greater Cleveland Congregations and others watch council hearings on Tuesday. [Nick Castele / ideastream]
Members of Greater Cleveland Congregations and others watch council hearings on Tuesday.

Cleveland City Council held a six-hour meeting Tuesday on a proposal to spend public money on expanding Quicken Loans Arena.

This upcoming Monday, the measure will go before council’s finance committee, which is typically the last stop before a vote on the floor.

The deal would extend Cleveland’s admissions tax for another 11 years, up until 2034. An estimated $88 million in revenue from collections at the Q would help pay down the debt on renovation work there.

Money left over each year would go into a reserve fund, as the mayor’s chief of staff, Ken Silliman, told council.

“And that’s what we are putting away in the event we need it when we eventually talk to the Indians about a renewed lease,” Silliman said.

The Indians’ lease on Progressive Field is set to expire in 2023.

Rev. Richard Gibson testified on behalf of the faith group Greater Cleveland Congregations. He said the deal should include benefits for city neighborhoods, too.

“But as we look at this transaction, we are not anti-Cavs, we are not anti-Q, but this deal is not the most equitable for our community,” Gibson said.

Defenders of the deal said events and employees at the Q contribute millions in tax revenues, and that the project would support construction jobs.

“When the public and the private pull together in the same direction in a town,” Terence P. Joyce of Laborers Local 310 told council, “we can get a lot of things done, we can put a lot of people to work, and we can keep Cleveland on this great roll that it’s on.”

Last week, Cuyahoga County Council voted 8-to-3 to issue the $140 million in bonds that would be used to finance the arena project. 

Nick Castele is a senior reporter covering politics and government for Ideastream Public Media.