Quicken Loans Arena Would Have Been Way More Expensive With New Tax Bill

Quicken Loans Arena Would Have Been Way More Expensive With New Tax Bill
Courtesy: Cleveland Cavaliers
If the new GOP-sponsored tax bill is passed as is, or at least with a provision that disallows the use of tax-exempt bonds for professional sports facilities, future stadium-financing scams in Cleveland will be even tougher sells for local taxpayers.

And if the Greater Cleveland Congregations (the main Q Deal opposition group) hadn't "snatched defeat from the jaws of victory," as they did when they declined to pursue a referendum effort sanctioned by the Ohio Supreme Court, the Q Deal would have been much costlier, even if approved by voters at the ballot box.

The Plain Dealer reported this week that the county's financial adviser, Timothy Offtermatt, said the round of financing for the arena project was completed Oct. 18, and that the new tax legislation "will not be a problem."

But with even a minor delay, the project costs could have ballooned. Of the project's estimated $140 million cost, about $35 million is being financed through the sale of tax-free bonds sold through the county. Those bonds will be paid back over the next 17 years by the city, county and the Cavaliers. But those bonds, which function like low-interest loans for billionaire sports owners, have cost the federal government more than $3 billion since 2000 nationwide. They'll no longer be allowed starting Thursday.

Assuming the provision stays intact, this could complicate Gilbert's plans for a new basketball arena in 2034.

On the other hand, given Cleveland's machinery of pro-stadium-deal propagandists and the web of accomplices and shills in the worlds of real estate, finance and law — most of whom donate lavishly to elected officials like Frank Jackson — ramming an even more suspicious, more lopsided deal down local voters' throats won't be too much trouble.

After all, #ThisisCLE
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Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
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