Cleveland council members say convincing residents of the Progressive Field deal will be a tough sell

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Some Cleveland City Council members warned Monday that the Cleveland Indians will have to explain why a $ 435 million improvement proposal at Progressive Field is important to Clevelanders, if they hope to gain council approval .

The Council’s finance committee received its first briefing on the plan, which would extend the baseball club’s lease until at least 2036. In exchange, the city, Cuyahoga County, state and team, which will become soon the Cleveland Guardians would fund upgrades to keep the stadium viable for years to come.

But in a city that has been ranked among those with the highest poverty rates, it will be necessary to explain to residents why a viable stage is important, members said.

“I hope this conversation will focus on the economic importance to our community and not just wealthy sports owners,” said Councilor Blaine Griffin.

Councilor Mike Polensek was more relevant.

“At the end of the day, we’re talking about quality of life. … I have families who struggle every day to keep a roof over their heads, ”he said.

“I’m going to ask, ‘What have you got for us? ”, Said Polensek. “I want to know what you have done (to help the community). “

City Councilor Brian Kazy noted that many Clevelanders cannot afford to go to the stadium and will not favor the deal.

“This one is going to be a tough sell, and I understand the economic impact,” Kazy said. “When everyone comes to the table, get ready. “

Legislation approving the agreement will still be reviewed by several city council committees.

Ken Silliman, chairman of the board of directors of Gateway Economic Development Corp., said the team, staff at Gateway and the Historic Gateway Neighborhood Corp. who work with landowners around the stadium and arena will be ready with detailed presentations to these committees. They intend to show why the deal is a good investment for Cleveland.

Council Chairman Kevin Kelley said he did not have a specific timeline for when the plan could go to a final vote. It will depend on how quickly the committees proceed, he said.

The proposal now provides that the new lease will take effect in January 2022.

Cuyahoga County Council is also considering the plan. He introduced the bill last week and sent it to committees for review.

The proposal provides for support of $ 9 million per year from the county for 15 years. Cleveland would inject $ 8 million a year. The state has pledged $ 2 million per year. The team would inject $ 4.5 million per year.

The deal includes approximately $ 202.5 million in proposed renovations to the baseball stadium, as well as routine maintenance and major repairs. Some renovations could be completed by 2023. Others would not be before 2025.

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