Cuyahoga County Council will meet at 1 p.m. this afternoon to deliberate once again on the Quicken Loans Arena renovation plan.
As currently constructed, the "deal" requires Cuyahoga County to sell bonds to generate $140 million that will be used to fund the project. The Cavs, via "increased rent," and the taxpayers will pay back that money over 17 years, with total costs leveling out in the $282 million range. The public contributions will come from the county (convention reserve fund), Destination Cleveland (bed tax), and the City of Cleveland (admissions tax), and will total roughly $160 million.
The council resolution authorizing the sale of the bonds has advanced, as resolutions do, from the committee stage to "the floor" and is being discussed on what's called a second reading. It will be voted on March 28 (on third reading), where a majority of council (six out of 11 members) will need to vote in the affirmative to approve the deal.
Since Council last met, the Greater Cleveland Congregations (GCC), the group leading the opposition, held a meeting at Elizabeth Baptist Church to re-state their issues with the proposal as it exists now. They don't like how the deal was negotiated and want commensurate investment in distressed neighborhoods, including funding for two mental health crisis centers. Three County Councilpeople — Jack Schron, Dale Miller, Yvonne Conwell — attended the Thursday evening event and said they'd work to slow the legislation down, at least until the state budget is released in June.
As at past council meetings, GCC is expected to bring a large contingent to this afternoon's gathering. In literature distributed Thursday, GCC advised that members arrive to the 1 p.m. meeting at 11:30 a.m. The Quicken employees and tradesmen who have been corralled to take up seats for the pro-deal side will likely arrive early as well.
spoke by phone with city councilman Mike Polensek Monday. He attended the GCC meeting last Thursday and said he agrees with a county source who told him the resolution would cut through county council "like a knife through butter." He's been disappointed in elected leaders throughout the process and says the only hope to stall or restructure the deal — he's opposed to it now, saying "I could vote against this in my sleep" —
is to slow it down.
The closer the city deliberations are to the primary elections in September, the tougher it will be for City Councilpeople to ignore their constituents in favor of their corporate donors (which is what most of them intend to do).