CHICAGO -- Cuyahoga County, Ohio would borrow up to $65 million to finance upgrades to the venues of Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians and the National Basketball Association’s Cleveland Cavaliers, under legislation sponsored by County Executive Armond Budish.
The county would tap voter-approved local taxes on alcohol and cigarettes to repay the debt, according to the county administration, which pitched the plan Oct. 15.
Cuyahoga County voters in May 2014 approved a 20-year extension of the cigarette-and-alcohol tax to pay for maintenance at publicly owned FirstEnergy Stadium, Progressive Field, and Quicken Loans Arena, where the Cleveland Browns, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Cleveland Indians play. The tax is expected to generate roughly $260 million through 2035.
The county is obligated to cover the cost of some projects under its leases with the Indians and Cavaliers. The teams have expressed hope that the new tax revenue is split evenly in the coming years but the final decision on how it’s doled out belongs to the County Council. The $60 million would mark the first distribution from the extended taxes.