CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – Quicken Loans Arena is getting a major face-lift.
The Cleveland Cavaliers, city of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Gateway Economic Development Corporation, and Destination Cleveland unveiled plans for a $140 million “transformation” of the arena which originally opened its doors in 1994.
The Cavs will split 50 percent of the cost of the project and cover any and all construction overruns related to it.
“This deal is crucial to continuing the great momentum the city and county are experiencing,” county executive Armond Budish said.
With the transformation moving forward, the Cavs have extended their lease through 2034 and the NBA has agreed to commit a future All Star weekend to the city of Cleveland, potentially in 2020, after the renovations are completed.
“The NBA is very supportive of the Quicken Loans Arena transformation project which we believe will greatly benefit the entire Cleveland community,” NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum said in a statement. “We understand the impact this project will have in continuing the great momentum we have all seen recently in the city. We look forward to holding our week of NBA All-Star events in Cleveland in the near future following the successful completion of The Q transformation project.”
The Q entered this season as the NBA’s second oldest arena along with the Untied Center, home of the Chicago Bulls. The Utah Jazz play in the oldest arena, which opened in 1991.
Cleveland’s arena hosts over 200 events and draws in excess of 2 million visitors per year including the Cavs, Monsters, Gladiators, Cleveland State basketball, concerts and other events. The renovation will also greatly expand the existing capabilities for turning the building over between events.
“The $140 million transformation, half of which the Cavalier’s will be paying, ensures that this public facility will remain competitive in the future,” Cleveland mayor Frank Jackson said. “This investment provides an innovative solution for extending the use and impact of The Q for years and years to come without the need for a much more expensive new arena. In addition, the seven year extension of the Cavalier’s lease through 2034 will represent one of the longest tenures in the same facility in all of sports.”
Since The Q opened in 1994 it has hosted the 1997 NBA All Star Game, 3 NBA Finals, NCAA Women’s Final 4 as well as multiple NCAA tournaments, the Republican National Convention and the greater Cleveland Sports Commission hopes to attract another round of NCAA games when the project is done.
Here’s a 360 view of the model of The new-look Q:
County and city leaders pledge that the $70 million publicly funded portion of the project will not add or raise any taxes or force services to be cut as the result of redirected funds.
The county plans to use the construction cost savings from the downtown Hilton hotel, portions of the current admissions tax, sales tax within the arena as well as a portion of the hotel bed tax which helps fund ‘Destination Cleveland’ as the funding mechanisms to cover their portion of the cost.
Tax dollars from the sin tax can not be used to fund this project, which is expected to significantly extend the life of the arena and cost much less than the $500-750 million cost of replacing the building completely. Those funds are reserved specifically for capital improvements to The Q, Progressive Field and FirstEnergy Stadium by law.
The Cavs will also be responsible for covering any arena tax projection shortfalls, providing the county a safety net should the tax revenue from the building not live up to expectations in the form of “adjusted rent.”
Since the arena opened, the Cavs have spent over $400 million in operating, maintenance, repair and capital expenses over the last 22 years including their share of supporting the Gateway Economic Development Corporation, which technically serves as their landlord.
“Extending the life of The Q into the next decade and beyond is an efficient and responsible solution, and one that will provide a substantial return to our community,” Cavs and Quicken Loans Arena CEO Len Komoroski said. “We are firmly committed to Cleveland and will continue to be aggressive in how we approach everything inside and outside The Q, with the goal being to continue impacting Cleveland’s great momentum in a very positive way.”
Construction is expected to begin in 2017 once final plans for the project are approved by the county and city and will take approximately 2 years to complete.