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Cuyahoga County Council Committee Recommends New Sports Facility Fund

Any expenditures would still need to be approved by Cuyahoga County Council. [Brian Bull / ideastream]
Progressive Field

Cuyahoga County Council will soon consider a proposed ordinance to create a special fund for maintenance and construction costs at major league sports facilities, after the county finance committee’s favorable recommendation of the proposal Monday.

Money for the fund would come from the increase to the county bed tax approved by council last year. At the time, local officials thought the money could be redirected without the establishment of a special fund, said council staffer Trevor McAleer. But the county has since reviewed the situation and feels council must make the change after all, McAleer said.

The ordinance would not call for any immediate expenditures, said Cuyahoga County Law Director Greg Huth, and future spending would need to be approved by the council.

“This is just a way for the county as a whole to keep track of the money and make sure the transfer happens,” Huth said.

The bed tax is currently bringing in about half the projected revenue due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, county officials said.

The ordinance would allow the fund to be used for improvements, renovations, repairs, maintenance or construction of sports facilities for major league teams. The county is already responsible for covering some work at sports facilities, McAleer said, including any capital repairs of more than $500,000 at Quicken Loans Arena and Progressive Field under their current leases.

“This fund does not limit to anything above $500,000,” McAleer said. “This fund has a little more flexibility than the existing leases right now.”

Creation of the fund would allow the money to go toward projects like updating scoreboards, McAleer said, which may be stipulated in a contract without reaching the financial threshold for capital improvements.

The ordinance will not create new financial obligations for the city, Huth said.

“Don’t think of this ordinance as in any way impacting the county’s obligation under those leases,” Huth said. “What this does is give you a source of funding when you do have an obligation under one of those leases.”

Creating the fund now goes before the full council, which is expected to hold its next meeting Oct. 27.