Cuyahoga County officials are proposing roughly $40 million in bonds to cover repairs at two major sports facilities, including the Cleveland Indians‘ Progressive Field.
On Tuesday, the administration of Cuyahoga County executive Armond Budish introduced legislation that included the proposed bond issue. The bond issue would provide funding to cover major repairs at Progressive Field and Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse (formerly Quicken Loans Arena), the adjacent home of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers.
Should it move forward, the bond money would not be used to fund new capital improvements at either facility, but rather be allocated toward reimbursements for projects covered by the teams or for plans approved but not yet financed by Gateway Economic Development Corp., the owner of both venues. The bonds would be backed by the county’s tax on alcohol and cigarettes. More from Cleveland.com:
The money generated from the bonds would have to be spent in three years, according to [Bob] Franz [of Stifel, the county’s financial adviser]. But none of it would go toward new capital projects at the arena and ballpark. Instead, the money would be used to reimburse projects paid for by the teams, or for other projects already approved by Gateway but not yet paid for.
As part of the deal, the county would refinance $40 million in bonds sold in 2015. Franz likened the deal to homeowners refinancing their mortgages to get better interest rates.
The bonds would be paid for with revenues from the county’s 20-year tax on alcohol and cigarettes, which voters extended in 2014.
Officials told cleveland.com in 2017 that the county would not sell bonds backed by the sin tax, and would instead have the Cavaliers and Indians, along with the Cleveland Browns, split about $7.5 million each year raised by the tax.
The proposed bond issue will have to be approved by the Cuyahoga County Council in order to move forward.