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Monday, November 29, 2021

Cleveland City Council OKs Progressive Field Deal, Polensek, Mooney, Spencer Vote No

Posted By on Mon, Nov 29, 2021 at 8:49 PM

This stone alone has cost taxpayers $3 million. - SAM ALLARD / SCENE
  • Sam Allard / Scene
  • This stone alone has cost taxpayers $3 million.

At its meeting Monday night, Cleveland City Council passed legislation greenlighting the Progressive Field Deal, a 15-year lease extension with the Cleveland Guardians that includes roughly $285 million in public subsidies for ballpark maintenance and improvements. Council voted 13-3 in favor of the ordinance, with Ward 8's Mike Polensek, Ward 11's Brian Mooney and Ward 15's Jenny Spencer dissenting. Ward 14's Jasmin Santana was not in attendance and did not cast a vote.

The city's portion of the deal will include roughly $8 million per year over 15 years, sourced from admissions tax revenue at the ballpark, (revenue that would otherwise go to the city's general fund), a sports facility reserve fund created as part of the Q Deal, revenues from the Gateway East parking garage, and about $350,000 per year that remains unsourced and will likely be taken out of the city's general fund.

Council members expressed reservations about the general fund exposure over the course of nearly nine hours at two committee hearings held previously. That pot of money, which funds the daily operation of the city, will be burdened with covering shortfalls if the revenue streams from the parking garage fall short of projections.

Cuyahoga County Council had already authorized its portion of the deal. It will pay $9 million per year over 15 years, a contribution that includes substantial annual payments from its general fund. The county also authorized a $202.5 million bond issue to finance the "ballpark improvements." These are the proposed dramatic upgrades at the stadium like the re-imagined Terrace Club, a new upper deck and the renovation of the Guardians' administrative offices. Under the terms of the new lease, the public will now also be responsible for all capital repairs.

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