On Monday night, the Cleveland City Council approved upgrades to Quicken Loans Arena. Per the agreement, the city of Cleveland and Cuyahoga set to pay for $140 million. The Cavs’ hope, per the website they set up to market the upgrades, is that the arena will help them host an NBA All-Star game and compete with similar arenas.
The project has draw criticism for city money being used on an arena when the city of Cleveland has issues with crime, schools and and unemployment.
Earlier today, the Cavs made a last minute effort to upgrade the deal by promising upgrade basketball courts in Cleveland and donating 100 percent of profits from playoff watch parties to Habitat for Humanity. It’s worth noting that the Cavs were already donating that money, this just sends it to a specific charity. Quicken Loans Arena admission tax dollars that go to the city’s general fund also will ever fall below the amount that goes to debt service on the renovation. The deal expects $8 million per year in money added to the fund by 2024 with the Cavs having to write a check for the difference. The renovations are expected to begin this summer.
The problem with this deal, though, is that Cuyahoga County and the city aren’t exactly cash flush. Per Cleveland Scene, the county has maxed out its credit. Additionally, the Cavs’ contribution to the renovations are basically just their rent payments through 2034 with the lease being extended from 2027. In simple terms: the city and county are ones footing the bill. And the Cavs, owned by billionaire Dan Gilbert, are not
Studies show that stadiums paid for by cities are bad investments. So, while an All-Star game might be nice and the Q maybe does need some rennovations, maybe they shouldn’t be paid for by a city and a county that doesn’t have a lot of money in the first place.