Cleveland City Council Approves Public Money for Quicken Loans Arena Makeover

The Cavaliers plan to add a glass atrium to the entrance of Quicken Loans Arena.
The Cavaliers plan to add a glass atrium to the entrance of Quicken Loans Arena. [Nick Castele / ideastream]
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Cleveland city council approved public financing for the makeover of Quicken Loans Arena on Monday night. 

The deal extends Cleveland’s admissions tax through 2034. A portion of tax collections at the Q will go toward the arena’s renovation. That’s estimated to be about $88 million over 11 years. Another part of those collections go to the city’s general fund.

In the hours before the vote, Council President Kevin Kelley announced the Cavs had agreed to ensure that the city’s share of the collections is no smaller than the portion paying for the Q deal. He and other supporters held a rally and news conference on the steps of city hall.

“I think a dollar-for-dollar guarantee is pretty good,” Kelley said in an interview. “I think that is, quite frankly, I think it is more than reasonable.”

In addition, he said the team will pay to refurbish basketball courts at rec centers and high schools. The Cavs also say they will give proceeds from playoff watch parties to Habitat for Humanity. The team has given that money to other charities in past years, too.

Opponents of the deal packed city council chambers Monday night and applauded for speeches against it.

“We have to reset our radar screen, on behalf of our people,” Councilman Michael Polensek said in a speech on the council floor. “If we don’t we are going to continue to deal with poverty, despair and hopelessness.”

Some council members questioned how and when the Cavs would deliver on the promise to fix up basketball courts.

Both measures, one extending the admissions tax and the other accepting the Cavaliers’ new offer, passed with 12 votes in favor and five against. Voting no on both were council members Kevin Conwell, T.J. Dow, Jeff Johnson, Michael Polensek and Zack Reed.

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