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Cavs Pull Out of Quicken Loans Arena Renovation Deal

The Cavaliers presented county council with this rendering of the proposed arena renovation. [Cuyahoga County Council]
The Cavaliers presented county council with this rendering of the proposed arena renovation.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are backing out of a deal to refurbish Quicken Loans Arena with the help of millions in taxpayer dollars, saying a referendum on the deal would lead to construction delays.

The public would have shouldered the creation of reserve funds and paid the debt for half the construction costs—all told, an estimated $160 million in public money over 17 years. The funds would have come from admission taxes, hotel taxes and other sources. Opponents said that tax money should go elsewhere, and gathered signatures to send part of the deal to a referendum of Cleveland voters.

“The investments over the years into the Q have paid back multiples in economic impact, job creation and tax generation,” Cavaliers CEO Len Komoroski said in a prepared statement released by the team. “It is very disappointing to see our further private investment into the Q Transformation project reach this ending point.”

A statement in bold type at the end of the release little doubt about the basketball organization’s sentiments regarding the deal’s failure: “The Cavaliers organization will no longer participate in the partnership formed for The Q Transformation project and the need for a referendum no longer exists.

An opposition group consisting of Greater Cleveland Congregations (GCC), Service Employees International Union District 1199, and the Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus had recently pushed for a prospective referendum against the planned renovations, stating the money would be better spent revitalizing the community. 

The Cavaliers Organization, County Officials, and Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson had pushed for the deal, arguing the investment in extending the life of the building would build more revenue for the Cleveland area, as well as keep the team in town longer.

In a statement Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish called the development “…a significant loss for the community.”  “By killing this deal, the opponents have harmed the future for our neighborhoods residents.”

The Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus announced in a statement they were “very pleased that the Cleveland Cavaliers decided to cancel the Quicken Loans Arena Project.” CCPC alluded to political concerns over the plan. The Cavaliers, Mayor Jackson Cleveland City Council all know that the project would have been soundly defeated at the ballot box.  This is their way of saving face.”