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Northeast Ohio labor group announces support for Progressive Field upgrades, lease extension

“You don’t have to like sports or be a union member to benefit from this project."

CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Building and Construction Trades Council, a labor group representing approximately 14,000 area members, has given its endorsement to the plan to upgrade Progressive Field and extend the lease with the Indians (soon-to-be Guardians) through 2036. 

In a press release issued on Thursday, the organization representing 17 craft unions cited job creation as the driving force behind its endorsement.

“The new lease will result in local spending and local hiring. This building was built with union men and women, and the vast majority of the $200 million in ballpark improvements will be directed to local union jobs – and that’s good for both our members and the communities in which they pay taxes," Executive Secretary Dave Wondolowski noted in the release. 

Wondolowski says the council also understands that the upkeep and sustainability of the stadium allows it to continue to remain a “economic asset” for the city and its communities. He adds that the success of the Gateway Complex has been a catalyst for other projects nearby, helping to generate additional jobs for its members.

“You don’t have to like sports or be a union member to benefit from this project. The spending generating from the ballpark pays for critical services in Cleveland and all Cuyahoga County communities,” said Terry Joyce, business manager for Laborers Local 310.

Wondowlowski says the Trades Council and the Guardians are targeting a participation metric of at least 70% of construction project labor from the 18-county Northeast Ohio region.

The Progressive Field project and proposed lease extension was announced earlier this month by the Cleveland Indians, city of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County and the state of Ohio. The agreement is worth $435 million over the course of 15 years.

Nearly two thirds of the price tag will come from taxpayers, including $117 million from the city, which is tapping parking revenue and taxes on concert and sports tickets. The county is offering $138 million from taxes on alcohol and cigarettes, plus hotel stays and other sources. Gov. Mike DeWine has offered $30 million but will need lawmakers’ backing. The Indians organization will contribute $10 million annually, $4.5 million of which will go toward stadium upgrades.

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