Last Tuesday afternoon, Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish stood at a packed County Council meeting and emotionally pleaded for Council to approve the most recently proposed $70 million public handout to Dan Gilbert for upgrades to Quicken Loans Arena. Even though there is no legal obligation for the public to provide the proposed subsidy, the County Exec went as far as to say, “we stand a very good chance of losing the Cavaliers and the Q … at the end of the lease if we don’t make this deal now.”
Here, Budish explicitly communicated on Gilbert’s behalf the absurd threat that Gilbert and his surrogates have been hinting at for years to justify the constant flow of nine-figure subsidies to the Cavaliers and Cleveland’s other two professional sports teams (all three, of course, privately-owned): “Give us your money, even though we don’t need it, because if you don’t we’ll pack up our balls and leave town just like Art Modell did.”
First, note that this $70 million is not from the Sin Tax funds that were approved by voters in 2014 to meet purported lease obligations, and the City and County are not in any way obligated to pay this money. It’s just a plain old handout, by … Click to continue reading at Cleveland Scene
Last evening, The League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland hosted a panel on “Sports Stadium Financing in Cleveland” where I was one of the panelists with Cavs and Quicken Loans Arena CEO Len Komoroski and Tom Chema, former CEO of the Gateway Economic Development Corp. The panel’s moderator, Peter Krouse of Cleveland.com, made clear in his opening remarks that the event was arranged in part because the Cavs have asked the County for an additional $70 million (on top of their share of the estimated $300 million in Sin Tax funds that were approved by voters in 2014) to finance renovations to the Q, and the proposal is currently under consideration by County officials. The conversation that followed made clear how important it is that we continue to up the scrutiny on these subsidies.
After a lengthy soliloquy by Mr. Chema on the history of Cleveland’s three pro-sports facilities, I proposed (at the 23-minute mark) the basic premise that if the owners of Cleveland’s professional sports franchises will continue to take 100% of the profits from running these businesses, they should pay 100% of their costs. From there I explained that I would be open to an argument to the contrary if the owners could make the case that they really need public money to make these businesses sustainable, but they can’t begin to make this case until they publish their financial statements, which they continually refuse to do. I made clear that I don’t question the value of the teams to the region, that I understand that the City and County own these facilities, and that there are technically legal obligations to maintain them. But the more important point, I argued, is that these obligations were agreed to three decades ago under dramatically different economic conditions, on terms that are now understood to be extremely favorable to the owners. At this point, given changed economic conditions and so many pressing uses for public funds, there’s no reason why the public shouldn’t demand that the terms of this public/private partnership be revisited, especially considering that we’ve poured up to $2 billion or more into these facilities already. Basic transparency, accountability, and fairness shouldn’t be too much for the public to ask in its “partnership” with these owners, and that has to start with the teams providing the public with the most basic information necessary to determine whether public subsidies for these businesses are really necessary.
There sure is a lot to love about this Cleveland Indians team, and to see them make the World Series in the same year that LeBron’s Cavaliers broke Cleveland’s epic 52-year championship drought is really something. But until Northeast Ohioans can manage to demand that their billionaire sports-owners not employ open and casual racism with their sports logos and team names, the Curse of Chief Wahoo gives me more to believe in than these guys who get paid millions to play baseball with “Cleveland” on their shirts, most if not all of whom will leave Cleveland the first chance they get.
Many of my relatives, friends, and countless other good people would of course be overjoyed if the Indians could manage to break the Curse, and that would be great. But if the Curse of Wahoo beats the Indians again, it would be another strike against open and casual racism with sports logos and another win for the most righteous curse in sports, and that would be great, too.
In the meantime, folks should remember that a sports curse isn’t really any good unless it lets you get heartbreakingly close every once in awhile.
Go Cleveland, and go kindness and basic decency toward all people of all races. It is a real damn shame that the Dolan family makes Cleveland baseball fans choose between the two.
Will Hue Jackson and a bunch of Ivy-degreed technocrats give us any reason to think that what was good about the Browns hasn’t gone away with so much about what used be good about America? Now that LeBron has made good on the greatest story imaginable in modern pro-sports, how much enthusiasm will Northeast Ohioans be able to maintain for a bunch of guys flown in by an oligarch from Tennessee to play football games with “Cleveland” written on their shirts?
Folks will have to tune in to find out.
Happy football season to all, from the folks at Cleveland Frowns.
Γρηγόρης Παναγιώτης Παττακός (Grigoris Panayiotis (“Greg”) Pattakos) passed away late on Saturday evening, August 13, due to complications caused by cancer.
He was born on November 9, 1944 in the city of Chania on the island of Crete, Greece, the seventh child and third son of Maria (Markakis) Pattakos (of the village of Pervolia in Chania) and Panayiotis Pattakos (of the village of Ano Meros in Rethymnon, Crete). The Pattakos clan descends from the legacy of “the seven brothers,” who, after the fall of the Byzantine Empire to the Ottoman Turks in 1453, were exiled by the sultan from their home on the island of Imbros in the northeast corner of the Aegean Sea to the remote mountainous region of Sfakia, on Crete’s southeastern coast. Here, according to historian Adonis Plymakis in his book, “Sfakia: Imbros’ Gorge,” [click to continue…]
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