Provision of public money to Cleveland’s NBA team for arena upgrade would be betrayal of public trust.
The NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers and its owner Dan Gilbert intend to request public funds to help pay for an upgrade of the team’s arena, but such funding would be unjustified because the upgrade is not one of the county’s priorities.
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The Cavaliers are preparing a plan that would ask the public to help subsidize the upgrade of Quicken Loans Arena a mere nine months after the city’s voters approved the funding of repairs at the team’s taxpayer-owned facilities.
Team officials say it is premature to comment, but it is believed the facelift would increase the building’s square footage, allowing the Cavaliers to offer more amenities to fans and increase revenue. The Cavaliers would pay at least half the cost, but the report said the only way it would make sense is if the Cavaliers pay it all.
When the Cavaliers make the case for Cuyahoga County taxpayers to help pay for the upgrade, they may argue that only two arenas in the NBA are older than theirs; that their lease is more public-friendly than most; that the plan will provide another boost to the downtown’s incredible momentum; and that many tangible benefits flow from taxpayers owning a building that’s world-class.
However, Cleveland.com said no objective list of the county’s top 50 funding priorities would include upgrading the arena, as the county has needs that desperately require funding such as expansion of MetroHealth Medical Center, demolition of vacant homes, critical investments in early-childhood education and crumbling infrastructure.
Any attempt to provide the Cavaliers with even more public money would probably be viewed by voters as reneging on the deal they made last year, and as a stunning betrayal of the public trust, the report said.