Op-Ed: Will Dan Gilbert’s Greed Cost Cleveland an NBA All-Star Game?

Will Dan Gilbert’s greed cost Cleveland an NBA All-Star Game?

This is a question that seems to be getting lost in the debate over the Q-deal referendum, which will now be moving forward thanks to yesterday’s ruling by the Supreme Court of Ohio.

Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and his surrogates, both in their legal briefing against the referendum and in their related public-relations efforts, have repeatedly tried to blame opponents of the Quicken Loans Arena subsidy for costing Cleveland a chance at hosting the NBA All-Star Game. The Cavaliers went so far as to argue that the Supreme Court should disregard the constitutional right to referendum precisely for this reason, and filed a letter from the NBA advising city officials that that if construction on the proposed renovation isn't underway before Sept. 15, Cleveland, “a very strong host city contender,” will no longer be considered to host the game in 2020 or 2021. The NBA’s ultimatum immediately became headline news, and Cleveland.com even led off its coverage of yesterday’s ruling by noting that it “likely scuttles Cleveland's hopes of hosting the NBA All-Star Game in either 2020 or 2021.”

As if the All-Star Game were more important than the Court’s affirmation of the democratic process and its rebuke to public officials who tried to deny the public’s right to test the arena proposal at the ballot. But worse that Cleveland.com has this narrative exactly backwards: If anything has “scuttled Cleveland’s hopes” of hosting the All-Star Game, it’s Gilbert’s continued refusal pay for the upgrade himself or otherwise come to a deal that benefits the community—a refusal that persists despite Gilbert’s infinite resources, and despite the fact that Gilbert is the one who takes 100 percent of the profits from the arena’s operations.

If the NBA wants the renovations to be underway by Sept. 15 to give Cleveland a chance to host the All-Star Game, there’s no good reason that Gilbert couldn’t make it happen. If Cleveland—“a very strong host city contender”—loses its chance to host the NBA All-Star game, there’s no one to blame but Gilbert himself.

Peter Pattakos is an attorney who represents the Q-deal petitioners and has legally represented Scene.

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