Cleveland Teams Lobby For County Sin Tax Renewal To Fund Facility Upgrades
Browns, Cavaliers and Indians reps last night attended a meeting regarding Cuyahoga County (Ohio) legislation to renew the "sin tax" to pay for stadium maintenance, and each talked about the "condition of their respective stadiums, for which the responsibility of maintenance ultimately falls on taxpayers," according to a front-page piece by Andrew Tobias of the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. The Cavs and Indians want $135M over a decade, with the split "roughly 50-50," as the Cavs want $65M and the Indians $70M. The Cavs want to "upgrade Quicken Loans Arena's scoreboard to high definition." The Indians "don't specify beyond saying that they want to 'replace the obsolete scoreboard system.'" Other "less splashy fixes include concrete and HVAC work for both stadiums, a new roof for Quicken Loans Arena, and audio and concessions area replacements for Progressive Field." But the teams "did not specify what each individual item would cost." The Cavs have spent $128M "on maintenance and capital investment in Quicken Loans Arena, plus another" $25M for a practice facility in Independence. Meanwhile, the Indians have spent $63M. Indians Exec VP/Business Dennis Lehman said of the team's profitability, "I can tell you the Cleveland Indians did not make a profit last year." Cavs and Quicken Loans Arena CEO Len Komoroski said, "Any profit we make is a fraction of the investment we make" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 1/22). In Cleveland, Eugen McCormick noted before the County Council heard from the teams "lobbying to extend the Sin Tax, the public had their chance to voice their opinions on the matter." All five people who spoke "came out opposed to renewing the sin tax" (CLEVELANDLEADER.com, 1/21).
TRIBAL UPGRADES: SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Don Muret reports the Indians have "issued a design/build proposal to construction firms for completing upgrades to Progressive Field." The document "mentions an investment" of $20M, and sources said that construction "would start in October" after the '14 season. But team VP/Ballpark Operations Jim Folk said that the number the Indians "have in mind is closer to" $15M. Folk said that to this point, "no decisions have been made on specific improvements to the stadium, which turns 20 years old this year." In addition, "no public or private funding has been approved for any potential projects." But Folk said that the Indians want to "get a better sense of the investment required to bring the facility up to speed with newer parks." Progressive Field opened "with 130 suites, but that number has been cut to about 115 after long-term leases expired and companies declined to renew their deals." The Indians over the past five seasons have "converted some empty suites to single-game party areas, including the Fan Cave, featuring a pool table and video games, and the Rookie Suite for kids age 6 and younger that comes with an indoor playground and a climbing wall" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 1/20 issue). Meanwhile, the Indians and concessionaire partner Delaware North Cos. Sportservice announced a lengthy extension to their agreement, though terms of the deal were not disclosed (DNC).