The Cleveland Indians are asking Cuyahoga County to approve $8 million for Progressive Field upgrades. If approved, the funds would cover improvements to administrative offices, the box office, and club level.
Over the last several years, the Indians have made various improvements to Progressive Field. That has included opening the outfield concourse, overhauling suites, adding new restaurants and clubs, upgrading social spaces, and modernizing parts of the ballpark.
The latest pitch for renovations would address several areas. A total of roughly $2 million would be directed toward the box office and administrative office upgrades, with about $6 million covering improvements to the club level. If approved, the club level upgrades would include renovations to the Club Lounge, an overhaul of the dining area and kitchen spaces, and more.
The team’s request was submitted to the board of the Gateway Development Corp. on Wednesday. Under the current timeline, the renovations would begin following the 2018 season and be scheduled for completion ahead of next July’s Major League Baseball All-Star Game at Progressive Field. More from The Cleveland Plain-Dealer:
Use of the tax dollars would require approval from Cuyahoga County Council.
Gateway pays for capital improvements to Progressive Field from revenue from a so-called sin tax on beer, wine, liquor and cigarettes. Tax collections total about $15 million a year and are split between the Indians, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Cleveland Browns. About $7 million of that $15 million goes toward paying the interest and principal on $60 million in bonds the county sold in 2015 as an advance on the sin tax.
That leaves about $1.5 million available for capital repairs, Todd Greathouse, Gateway’s executive director, said last year, noting that the sin tax well was almost dry. He said at the time that certain projects may not go forward unless the team self-funds them.
According to the leases, Gateway is responsible for all major capital repair upgrades that cost $500,000 or more. The Indians on Wednesday argued that the $8 million in proposed renovations to club seating, ticket windows, and their administrative office would fall under that category.
Next summer’s Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be Progressive Field’s first since 1997, and its second overall since it opened in 1994.