CLEVELAND — Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish said the county and the City of Cleveland have been in talks with the Cleveland Indians for more than a year to extend the teams Progressive Field lease past the 2023 season, but so far an agreement hasn't been reached.
Budish said the county will do all it can to reach a lease extension agreement with the team as soon as possible, because the loss of the team would not only end a rich major league baseball legacy, but have a significant regional economic impact.
“People love the Indians, people love baseball, and we want to keep baseball alive and thriving in northeast Ohio," Budish said. "The bars are filled, the restaurants are filled and the Indians have been very successful as a franchise, getting to the playoffs regularly and you know that fills hotel rooms.
"It’s critical we extend the lease. That’s the way we keep the team in Cleveland is through the lease, the same way that we did with the Cavaliers. Talks are ongoing, they’ve been ongoing, I’m optimistic, but who knows.”
News 5 contacted the Cleveland Indians for this story, but the team would only confirm the Progressive Field lease is set to expire at the end of 2023.
Sources told News 5 one potential suitor for the Indians, if a lease extension can't be reached, is Music City Baseball—an organization committed to bringing Major League Baseball to Nashville. So far, the organization would not comment on whether it has any interest in the Indians.
Budish said he couldn't go into details concerning ongoing lease extension talks, but made one thing clear about Indians ownership.
“To his credit the Dolans have never threatened to move," Budish said. "The lease talks are sometimes internally, with me and the Mayor, to discuss what our position should be. Sometimes we have our representatives talk to the Indians representatives. So the meetings vary quite a bit. Looking at the finances of baseball these days, if we don’t do everything we can to keep them, I’m sure they’ll be not just one suitor, but suitors all over the country trying to grab the Indians away from us.”
News 5 also contacted the Gateway Economic Development Corporation of Greater Cleveland, which owns Progressive Field. It had no comment on the talks, but said it would release a copy of the current lease it has with the Indians.