Greater Cleveland Congregations agrees to withdraw petitions challenging The Q transformation

Progessive Caucus protests petition withdrawal
Posted at 2:27 PM, Aug 31, 2017

Could the Quicken Loans Arena transformation be back on? 

The Greater Cleveland Congregations announced on Thursday that it has reached an agreement and will withdraw petitions challenging the deal.

This comes three days after the Cleveland Cavaliers announced they were pulling out of the deal, saying that the addition of a prospective referendum being placed on the ballot "will cause the groundbreaking of The Q Transformation to miss the current construction cycle, which pushes the overall price tag of the project higher due to rising construction costs." 

In a news release, the GCC said on Monday that Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish had "expressed committment...through mediators, to mental health and substance abuse crisis centers." 

The Cavs responded with the following statement:

We are very encouraged by this new development related to the private-public partnership plan to transform The Q for the long term. We are reviewing the impact of this change and discussing it further with the County, the City and others.

However other groups, like the Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus, involved in collecting more than 20,000 signatures to put the "Q deal" up for a vote, believe Greater Cleveland Congregations betrayed them.

Caucus Political Director Steve Holecko told News 5 the petitions were withdrawn without any of the other group being contacted.

"They had a moral obligation to consult with other activist groups involved," said Holecko.

"They never called any of us when they decided to drop the petitions."

Some of the other groups involved are considering additional protests as discussions on the $140 million dollar Quicken Loans Arena transformation resume.

In January, Rev. Jawanza Colvin, Pastor at Olivet Institutional Baptist Church, said they just wanted the city and county to find the money for those in need like they were able to find it for the arena.

"We're not talking about taking dollars away from the Q," Rev. Colvin said. "We're talking about matching dollars. We think that just as there was creative imagination and ingenuity in identifying where resources could be drawn from to invest in this arena that we can apply the same type of ingenuity and imagination to do that for our neighbors in our communities."

In July, leaders of four churches and synagogues around Cleveland announced they were discontinuing their association with the GCC because of the coalition's opposition to the deal. 

At the time, Todd Davidson, senior pastor of Antioch Baptist Church, said that the four organizations believe GCC has strayed from its initial mission.

GCC’s initial goals included a focus on education, jobs, healthcare, criminal justice, gun violence and sustainable food programs. The group’s early accomplishments were achieved by working collaboratively with Cleveland stakeholders, including the business community and elected officials. That approach changed when the GCC adopted the “Not All In – No Deal on the Q” campaign to oppose the proposal to upgrade the 23-year-old Quicken Loans Arena.

News 5 reported Thursday that the Cavaliers confirmed that the organization would not be rehabbing gym courts in the City of Cleveland’s recreation centers and the Cleveland Metropolitan School District high schools after withdrawing from their commitment to help fund the transformation project.

Cavs owner Dan Gilbert responded on Twitter Thursday to speculation that he would relocate the team by saying, "I will never move the Cleveland Cavaliers out of Cleveland. Period. And that's unconditional."