Reaction has been swift on Monday to the news by the Cleveland Cavaliers that they are ending their participation in the proposed $140 million dollar renovations to Quicken Loans Arena.
From the political side:
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson: "The Q Transformation Deal was an economic development project that would have resulted in more revenue for the City of Cleveland. It would have created construction and permanent jobs, modernized the facilities and guaranteed the Cavs would remain in our city until at least 2034. The deal was an investment in Cleveland’s future and the future of our neighborhoods. It was good for Cleveland and its people. This is a tremendous loss.”
Councilman Jeff Johnson: “I want to thank Dan Gilbert and the Cleveland Cavaliers for their decision to withdraw from a $140 Million deal that had comparatively little direct benefit or investment in the neighborhoods of Cleveland. I remain disappointed in Mayor Frank Jackson who continues to believe the use of $88 Million public funds for the Q Arena upgrade is ‘good for Cleveland and its people’ as he said in his statement on the Cavs withdrawal. The citizens of the 34 Cleveland neighborhoods are smart enough to know what is in their best interest and what will advance the city. Mayor Jackson and other public and business leaders should not have tried to block the legitimate involvement of the citizens via a vote to decide if they wanted the $88 Million to go to the Q Arena, or into their neighborhoods beginning in 2024.
I applaud the GCC, CCPC and others who went out into the community and met 20,000 citizens who wanted a vote on the use of the $88 million. I, myself, also took petitions and secured signatures for a citywide vote. We do not know what the outcome of the vote would have been, but everybody should have agreed to allow the people to speak. Instead manipulation of the city charter process, and suppression tactics were used to block a vote by the citizens. When that finally failed, Dan Gilbert and the Cavs organization refused to negotiate a substantive community benefits agreement and instead walked away. We are left with their supporters’ hyperbole of the negative impact of the withdrawal decision while ignoring their own failure to hear the concerns and frustrations of the neighborhood residents.
In the end, the citizens deserved better from Mayor Jackson and other community leaders. The Q Arena proposal they so proudly supported failed to directly respond to the high violent crime rate, significant unemployment, weak schools and the need for social partnerships to respond to mental health and addiction problems. That is what we all should be focused on”
Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish said: “This is a significant loss for the community. It jeopardizes the future of two key economic generators: The Q and the Cavs. The deal would have guaranteed that the Cavs would stay in Cleveland through 2034 and it would have created and retained many hundreds of jobs for people living in our neighborhoods.
And the deal did not raise anyone’s taxes. Contrary to misinformation put out by the opposition, the death of this deal actually means there will be less money, not more, available for social and community services for those most in need. By killing this deal, the opponents have harmed the future for our neighborhood residents.”
Congresswoman Marcia Fudge added this statement: “This is a disappointing day in Cleveland's history. The Q Project would have been very, very good for the city, its neighborhoods and all of its residents.
The Greater Cleveland Congregations' opposition to this good project was extremely misguided. I am deeply concerned that this small group of people have derailed the project, along with its thousands of jobs, the extension of the Cavs' lease, and the NBA All-Star week and its projected $100 million economic impact.
I am also concerned about the long-term implications of this type of politicking. Their strong-arm tactics have no place in good community organizing, and, to the contrary, could have a chilling effect on future, cooperative economic development efforts in Cleveland.
The Cavaliers were offering a very good package that would have guaranteed that The Q would remain a competitive venue for many years to come. The Q is an undisputed economic asset for Cleveland – it generates jobs and millions of tax dollars annually that are used to provide services to the city’s neighborhoods.
The arena, which is publicly owned, needs to be upgraded to remain competitive. This was our opportunity via a public-private partnership. Without an upgrade, I am concerned that The Q will eventually become a second-class venue, with fewer events and, therefore, fewer jobs and tax revenues. That hurts all of Cleveland, and the Cavaliers’ future.”
And Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley believes that: "This is a tremendous loss for Cleveland. This represents a loss of tens of millions of dollars that could have been spent in our neighborhoods. In the short term this means a loss of at least one thousand construction jobs scheduled to begin in September and the loss of the NBA All-Star Game.
The long term consequences that future mayors and councils will have to deal include the loss of tens of millions of dollars that will occur when the Cavaliers lease expires and how to deal with what will then be an obsolete arena owned by the public.
These outside groups – the major organizers against the plan –don’t have the best interests of Cleveland in mind. They will go back to Columbus, the suburbs and Washington D.C. having cost the city millions of dollars that would have gone to Cleveland neighborhoods."
On the opposite side, Greater Cleveland Congregations put out this release: Since January GCC has called on the Cavaliers, the City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County to work on a substantive Community Benefits Agreement worthy of the $160 million of public money directed to the Q Arena expansion. GCC makes no apologies for prioritizing ending the cycle of using our jails to house the mentally ill or seeking to employ the jobless. GCC makes no apologies for standing up for our most vulnerable residents in our most distressed communities who feel like second class citizens in their own city. GCC makes no apologies for standing up for the 22,000 people who signed petitions and were subjected to voter suppression tactics rather being able to exercise their democratic rights. The loss of this deal squarely lies at the feet of those who put old school politics above the interests of the people.
The Greater Cleveland Progressive Caucus adds: The Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus is very pleased that the Cleveland Cavaliers have decided to cancel the Quicken Loans Arena Renovation Project. Despite their stated reason for the cancellation the real reason is that the citizens of Cleveland spoke loud and clear in their opposition to the project by gathering 13,000 valid signatures to force a referendum on the issue. The Cavaliers, Mayor Jackson and Cleveland City Council all know that the project would have been soundly defeated at the ballot box. This is their way of saving face.