CLEVELAND — Cleveland City Council held the first of several committee discussions Monday on the proposed $435 million lease extension of Progressive Field.
The council's Finance Committee met with representatives of the Gateway Economic Development Corporation, who provided an outline of the plan.
The Indians/Guardians and Gateway agreed to a deal in August – with the backing of Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish – that would keep the team at Progressive Field until at least 2036. The team agreed to stay in exchange for a major upgrade to the aging ballpark.
The cost to the city, Cuyahoga County, and state of Ohio would be $19 million per year. Cleveland would pay $8 million annually, the county would add another $9 million, and the state would provide $2 million per year. The Guardians are contributing $150 million.
The city's portion would come from various sources, including parking garage revenue and the sports facility reserve that the city holds. The proposal calls for the new lease deal to begin in January of 2022.
Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley, who is also the chairman of the Finance Committee, says the city will need to hear from the Guardians, plus several other council committees who are vetting the deal.
Several members of the committee urged Gateway (and the Guardians) to be ready to make a strong case as to why the deal is necessary.
"You've got to be upfront with us," Councilman Michael Polensek advised. "And you've got to recognize what the men and women of this table are dealing with on a daily basis. Despair, poverty, lack of opportunity. The team owners have to be partners with us, because if they do, then we can make significant changes in this city."
Councilman Blaine Griffin added, "I really hope that this conversation becomes one of economic impact for our community and not just about rich sports owners. This is about how viable of an economic opportunity and tool is this for our community."
"This was a good discussion to get started,” Kelley added. “We will be having more, including hearing from the Guardians.”
Cuyahoga County Council has also begun reviewing the Progressive Field plan.
You can watch the Cleveland City Council's Finance Committee meeting in the player below:
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