Cuyahoga County Council passes 'Q' renovation funding

DOWNTOWN CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Protesters gathered at Cuyahoga County Council Administrative Headquarters on Tuesday, voicing their disapproval of tax payer money being used to pay for renovations at The Q. Despite the outcry, the measure passed by a vote of 8-3.

This locks down the Cavaliers in Cleveland until 2034.

Supporters say it's about much more than basketball. They say it's good for the economy throughout the Northeast Ohio.

But several protesters came out to say they think that money would be better spent in our neighborhoods. About a dozen people gathered outside of the Cuyahoga County administrative building before Tuesday night's meeting to protest the deal.

"Who does the project benefit, coffers of the county, the cities? You know very few residents in the area are financially able to buy a $70 Cavs ticket," said George Edwards.

Under the proposal, $70 million will come from the county and $70 million will come from the owners of the Cavaliers and The Q.

The Q is 23 years old -- the second-oldest arena in the NBA.

Some council members wanted to renegotiate.

"I am on the record for supporting the partnership the Cavs management team, but this is not a deal I can support. I ask you to reconsider, let's go back to the bargaining table and do something better for the taxpayers," said county council member Nan Baker.

But supporters argued it's worth the investment.

The arena hosts more than 200 concerts and events, attracting 200 million visitors to downtown Cleveland every year. Its owners say it supports 2,500 jobs each year.

"There's no doubt about it, the sports teams and this building brought a whole new rush of people downtown. So this is about the people, it's not about a glass façade," said county council member Sunny Simon.

They say it's about more than basketball -- it keeps Cleveland competitive.

"The citizens of our county need viable options like those provided at the arena that will help curtail the crime rate, but also give our citizens a sense of hope," said county council member Anthony Hairston.

Operators of The Q say right now, they have a small entry area and the concourses are crowded. The renovations include fixes to this, expanding those areas by up to 40 percent and modernizing the look of its exterior.

The $70 million from the county for the project will come from ticket sales and county sales tax and bed tax, as well as resources that went unused from last year's Hilton hotel project.

The owners of The Q say the majority of the public money will come from visitors from outside of Cuyahoga County.

Cleveland City Council also discussed upgrades at The Q on Tuesday, meeting with members of the Development, Planning, and Sustainability Committee. City Council still has to vote on the deal, after it was approved by the county council.

Copyright 2017 WOO. All rights reserved.