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Sunday, April 21, 2024
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More Teams Grapple With Funding As Stadium Upgrades Get Complex

  • Cavaliers look to conduct $24.4 million worth of arena renovations
  • Local public authority doesn't have sufficient tax funds to meet obligations
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Cavaliers are running into an increasingly common dilemma: They’re planning $24.4 million in upgrades to Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, but the public entity responsible for funding the work can’t pay for it.

The Gateway Economic Development Corp. of Greater Cleveland — which owns both Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse and neighboring Progressive Field — has approved the renovation work to upgrade the arena’s broadcast systems, elevators, and escalators, in keeping with lease terms requiring it to fund major capital improvements in excess of $500,000.

But that same body has acknowledged it doesn’t currently have the money, as cigarette and alcohol taxes that had helped to back prior construction and renovation expenses haven’t kept up with the facility’s needs. 

In the meantime, the Cavaliers will front the renovation expenses with the hope of being reimbursed. Last season, the team reached the playoffs for the first time since advancing to the 2018 NBA Finals with LeBron James. In 2019, the Cavs completed a $185 million renovation that extended the team’s lease at the arena to at least 2034.

Not Quite Like Milwaukee … Yet

Though the Cavs haven’t threatened any type of relocation attempt or legal action, the team’s current situation still resembles that of MLB’s Milwaukee Brewers, who are also looking to complete a facility renovation whose responsibility falls to a local public authority. 

The Guardians have already settled their issues with the Gateway authority for Progressive Field, agreeing to a long-term lease extension that will see major renovations begin after the 2023 MLB season.

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