Back in the late 1980s, Cuyahoga County’s powers-that-were decided that Cleveland would sink into the abyss of irrelevance if it did not erect a couple brand-new sports complexes for the Indians and Cavaliers.
So it approved an interminable sin tax on booze and smokes, set up the Gateway Economic Development Corporation to handle construction and operation, and tapped a local lawyer named Tom Chema to run the show. Under Chema’s watch, the project’s tab ballooned from an estimated $344 million to $461 million, not including giant foam fingers.
Now president of Hiram College, Chema has become the go-to guy for cities hungry for new sporting venues. He’s been traveling across Ohio and elsewhere as the principal of Gateway Consulting, spreading the gospel of how willing taxpayers gleefully spring for new arenas to massage civic pride.