Shortened NBA Season Cost Cuyahoga County $800,000

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Now that the NBA lockout has been shelved, it’s easier to measure the damage inflicted upon those who aren’t already rich enough to care less. Downtown bars and restaurants that rely on basketball traffic are among the casualties, but Cuyahoga County is sharing in the pain.

As part of the original arrangement to build Quicken Loans Arena, the county is saddled with paying off the debt. According to the tiny print, the county gets 5/8ths of the admission tax on sporting events — revenue that gets funneled back into paying off the loan.

But the NBA lockout cut that money off for nearly two months, and the lost dough amounts to upwards of $800,000 for the season, according to county fiscal officer Wade Steen. That means they’ll have to dip into the general fund to make good on the January mortgage check — about $500,000. “Every revenue source matters in tough economic times, so the fact that the games weren’t played and we have to subsidize a half-million dollars — that could have been utilized in some other way,” Steen says.

And here’s where you come in: Show up by the busload to cheer on the Cavs this season, and the bean counters will sigh with relief. But if Q crowds go the way of Browns fans in December, the county will be on the hook to subsidize the debt again next year.

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