CLEVELAND — City and county officials and the Cleveland Indians have reached an agreement on a Progressive Field lease extension, ensuring Major League Baseball remains in Cleveland for at least the next 15 years.
“This project ensures that Progressive Field remains competitive in the future and guarantees that baseball remains in Cleveland until at least 2036,” said Mayor Frank G. Jackson in a news release. “We are one of a few cities that have three major sports teams all located in a central business district. This shows that sports are important to the economic vitality of our hospitality industry and baseball specifically is critical to Cleveland’s future.”
The agreement guarantees baseball in Cleveland to 2036, with the potential for 10 additional years, until 2046.
Cleveland is the smallest metropolitan city in the country with three major sports teams. City and county leaders emphasized it was important to keep baseball and the tradition so many have loved through generations right here in Cleveland.
As the 11th oldest ballpark in MLB, Progressive Field will undergo $435 million in renovations. The city, county, state and the team will pay for the work. Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish stressed no additional taxes will be added.
“All of our suburbs are affected in many ways by the health and progress of the central city,” he said. “Progressive Field generates tax revenue, job creation and other economic upsides that benefit every community and resident in Cuyahoga County.”
The overall proposed deal, in addition to improvements to the fan experience, include capital repairs, maintenance, gateway operations and a large dug-out social spaces, among others being considered.
The team released two proposed renderings created by architecture firm NBBJ showing what some of the changes could potentially look like. Just keep in mind that both of these renderings are proposed and not official.
The first rendering shows a street view of left field.
The second rendering shows what fans could possibly expect strolling the upper deck.
The city and county will collectively contribute $17 million annually, the state will contribute $2 million and the team will contribute $19 million annually.
The ballpark is a driver of Cleveland's economy, with a direct annual impact of $323 million in direct spending by the team and its visitors, $21 million in taxes and it helps create more than 4,800 jobs.
“The Indians have been excellent partners and we are pleased to see that this vital public-private partnership is preserved," Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said. "This four-party agreement will keep Progressive Field competitive for many years/decades to come. We are pleased to play a role to maintain and transform this important economic engine and vital staple in Northeast Ohio’s economic toolkit.”
Jackson defended the use of tax dollars calling it an investment in the city's future.
"There's limited resources," said Jackson. "You make decisions in order to leverage those resources to get the greatest impact for that dollar, to get the best return on that dollar. It's the best interest of the City of Cleveland is businesses and its residents."
Progressive Field is now 27 years old, and similar stadiums in Texas and Atlanta have been replaced in just 26 and 20 years, respectively. Renovations will take place over the first five years of the lease agreement, if not sooner, owner Paul Dolan said.
“Updating Progressive Field is much less costly than building new. New venues typically cost about $1 billion without considering any maintenance or repairs over time,” Budish said. “This is a responsible investment in a public asset to maintain its competitiveness.”
The legislation tied to the deal reached is pending city council approval.
“Any legislation tied to the lease extension will go through the council committee process for full review,” Council President Kevin Kelley said. “Council will have a full agenda when we return to regular sessions in September, including American Rescue Act expenditures, and our main focus will be strengthening neighborhoods most affected by COVID."
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