Questions Continue Over Possible Makeover at Progressive Field

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From his current perch on CoolCleveland.com, Cleveland journalist Roldo Bartimole dishes out some color commentary on the Plain Dealer’s piece last week on who’s likely to foot the bill if Progressive Field gets a face-lift.

According to reports in the New York Times and Crain’s Cleveland Business, the cash-strapped Tribe recently asked design firms to “brainstorm” potential renovations. When the PD approached Indians officials about the possible construction, VP Bob DiBiasio shrugged it off, telling the paper “It’s not a question that needs to be asked yet.”

Bartimole was not too happy with that answer.

Doesn’t need to be answered? That is strict PR bullshit from someone who never gets challenged by the news media. A happy face he has but not a trustful one for me. If you believe him on this one I have some special mortgage bonds to sell you.

The newsprint vet says if the team goes forward with a renovation, taxpayer could end up shelling out for the work. There’s a growing pot of possible funding that the Gateway Economic Development Corp. — the nonprofit behind the stadiums — has an eye on, Bartimole suspects.

The sin tax extension of 10 years has a stipulation that the revenue up to $116 million will go to help pay for Browns Stadium for the City of Cleveland. However, once that total is reached the money — some $68 million had been the estimate — will go to the County. The tax has raised $94.3 million. So it’s not far from the $116 and is coming in at some $13 million a year.

The new money is not to go to Gateway. It is supposed to go to the County general fund. Where it is needed, I might add.

Watch County officials for the rest of this year. They must not be allowed to make any revisions that would send this money to Gateway.

Oh yeah, and although he starts off his post with a hearty pat on the PD’s back for asking the right questions, he doesn’t pull any punches about the past quality of their watchdog journalism.

My question is whether the Plain Dealer will deal with this money grab honestly. I hope so. But the PD’s record on this score is about as good as guys named Hagan, Dimora and Russo.

Kyle Swenson

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