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Indians Explore Progressive Field Upgrades, Area Improvements

Cleveland IndiansThe Cleveland Indians are exploring additional, extensive Progressive Field upgrades and potential development around the ballpark, in anticipation of the team’s lease coming up in 2023.

Opening in 1994, Progressive Field has been updated several times in recent years, with work coming both in fan-facing areas and behind the scenes, as well as a three-year project that saw plenty of food and concession upgrades. But it sounds like the Indians are ready to tackle some larger renovations  — dubbed a “re-imagining” of the ballpark experience, according to a local news report — and are seeking public funds as part of the mix. The Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA) went through a similar reimagining of their home, Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, before the beginning of the 2019-2020 NBA season, with funding coming partially from Cuyahoga County and a sin tax on cigarettes and alcoholic beverages. But the sin tax would not yield enough revenue to fund any large-scale renovations; hence the search for additional public funds past whatever the Indians are willing to pay. From WKYC:

The lease between Gateway and the Cleveland Indians requires taxpayers to foot the bill on capital improvements that cost more than $500,000 and includes such things as roofs, heating and cooling systems and scoreboards.

The Indians’ owners have invested millions in other upgrades and paid up front for certain capital improvements. But the team is re-imagining the ballpark and is asking Gateway to help pay for it, just as Cavs owner Dan Gilbert asked for help renovating Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. That renovation cost $185 million. The Cavs kicked in more than $100 million toward the cost. County taxpayers put in $70 million (plus interest on financing).

Some teams around the country have added development around sports facilities as one way to help pay for new stadiums and renovations. [Gateway Development Corp. chairman Ken] Silliman said that could be considered in Cleveland as well.

It should be noted that the talk of a Progressive Field re-imagining is in the context of a lease extension.

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