Rev. E.T Caviness and County Executive Armond Budish at meeting with clergy.
On the heels of growing concern from community members and stakeholders about the Quicken Loans renovation project, Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish praised the deal and trumped progress in underserved communities during a breakfast meeting at greater Abyssinia Baptist Church on Feb. 9.
“This is not a downtown Cleveland project. This is a downtown Cleveland project that benefits people throughout Cleveland and this county. The people who work at Quicken Loans live in the neighborhood and are making decent money,” he explained.
He continued, “We are talking about $20 million in taxes per year in revenue. I don’t need a study to tell you if you have been downtown during the playoffs you can see the increase in business at restaurants, hotels and bars. It does make a difference. Who’s working in those hotels and restaurants? It’s our residents.”
Budish blatantly stated: “The Quicken Loans Arena makes money for the county and the city and generates jobs for our residents.”
“The deal will benefit Quicken Loans Arena and yes, it will benefit Dan Gilbert, but let me tell you it benefits our people more than anyone else.”
Budish was elected as the County Executive in 2015 admitted that Gilbert could probably do the renovations himself, but that’s not the reality of the way majors sports teams do business theses days.
Cities across America have experienced the paid of losing a major professional sports team. The NFL Chargers left San Diego for Los Angeles, the Rams left St. Louis for Los Angeles, and several years ago the NBA Sonics left Seattle for Oklahoma. All because the cities would not build adequate state of the art facilities for the teams to play in.
In this instance, the Cavaliers not asking for a new arena, they just want improvements to the existing one that is the third oldest arena in the NBA at 23 years.
The Cavs lease expires in 10 years, 2027. Budish believes that if the renovation deal is not done there is a chance the city could lose the Cavaliers to perhaps St. Louis or another City that would build them a new arena.
“When I look at our budget I don’t see $600 million to build a new arena and I don’t want to say goodbye to 2000 jobs.”
He said the city and the county worked out a deal with the Cavaliers for a $140 million renovation in exchange for a seven-year extension on their lease and they would split the bill between the city/county and Cavaliers.
“We’re getting a great deal. If you look at the deals around the country we are getting a favorable deal for the public,” he stated.
He said the best part of the deal is that its being done without raising taxes and without impacting our services or general revenue fund.
The money that is being used for the renovation is funds that can’t be earmarked for anything other than tourism projects.
“We are really doing a lot for this community and our number one focus has been jobs,” he began speaking to dozens of prominent ministers. “We’ve got to get people working again and we are creating jobs and bringing them into the community.”