Sin Tax: What it Would Pay For at Progressive Field

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CLEVELAND-- Another push for the sin tax renewal, Tuesday.

Officials with Progressive Field gave a tour to the media to show examples of what the tax would pay for.

"It would pay for the storm and sanitary pumps that are on the basement level. Also, the hot water tanks that support the hot water needs, the concrete surface, and the heating and ventilation of concession stands on the main concourse and above," said Chris Donahoe, director of facility maintenance at the ballpark.

That is where the sin tax comes into play.

"It would take care of these four areas, as well as a number of others. Our primary focus is completely on the building. It is so we can repair and replace those things that are required to keep the building functioning and to keep it safe," added Jim Folk, vice president of ballpark operations.

What officials are counting on is for Cuyahoga County voters to decide on May 6 if the existing tax on alcohol and cigarettes should be renewed.

If it is, the tax would pay for major capital repairs at Progressive Field, Quicken Loans Arena and FirstEnergy Stadium.

"We're are at, near, or past the useful life of a lot of these things. So, we're really starting to get to the point where that renovation or type of renovation will need to take place," added Folk.

Not everyone is on the same team, however.

"The initial reaction from me and a lot of other people is 'hey, why don't we take the people on a tour of our city streets?'" said Ward 14 councilman Brian Cummins.

Councilman Cummins said his biggest concern is where the money is actually going.

"The first thing to do is confirm what in fact the sin tax will be used for. I've asked both executive branches of the city and the county, as well as county council and I can't get answers from anyone about if the sin tax money will go towards the debt obligations that both the city and the county have on the books for building these facilities," said Councilman Cummins.

Councilman Cummins says the sin tax proposal doesn't break down the amount between teams, either.

"The primary thing that the public is hearing is what do the teams need to pay for improvements and upgrades and fan experiences? Look, we do have obligations. But I want to know what we are getting from the sin tax for the debt payments for these facilities," added Cummins.

And in the end, the ball is in the voter's court.

"We've never even thought of if we don't. We have to. It has to be maintained. There's an obligation that the Indians and Gateway has to maintain the facility," added Folk.

Read more on the sin tax renewal.


  • Ron G

    Screw the sin tax charge more that go there and quit targeting those who don’t It is a sin to tax the smoker get a life Cleveland officials

  • David Anderson

    Vote NO on the sin tax. Here are two reasons why you should vote NO on this issue.

    This tax takes from the middle class and gives to the rich. Exactly the opposite of what is needed in this country to support long term economic and political stability. This tax aggregates funds spent by average middle class workers and gives them to a small number of very wealthy sports team owners and mega-million athletes. This is unhealthy for our country’s future and is fundamentally flawed.

    When you own a building, the leasee pays you rent. That rent is used for a return on your investment AND maintenance of the building. The sin tax was used to pay for the initial development of these sports venues. It was never intended and should NOT be used used for maintenance. The rent collected from the tenants is to be used for maintenance. Maybe the rent needs to be increased…NOT a sin tax into perpetuity on the backs of the taxpayer.

  • george johnston

    Another great job Fox 8. Use your media to extol the virtues of a tax. Why don’t you reverse the debate and back the tax payers for a change? Like…what could ordinary tax payers and businesses do for their families and employees IF THE SIN TAX WENT AWAY?

  • Brian J. Cummins

    I’d like to correct the report – I’m not against the sin tax. But, I am calling for a portion of the sin tax to be used to retire debt obligations the City of Cleveland still has outstanding ($128 million through 2028) for FirstEnergy Stadium.

    The fact is that the City and Gateway Economic Development Corporation have obligations per agreements with the teams, but we need to do what we can to have an honest and open discussion about our obligations (appx. $214 million in debt for the City and County); the need to pay that debt off; and, the need make capital repairs and improvements per the contracts (appx. $160 in estimates from all three teams for the first 10 years of the proposed 20 year renewal of the sin tax.

    That’s almost $380 million and doesn’t include capital needs for the 2nd 10 year period.

    The sin tax is estimated to generate between $260 – $300 million over the full 20 year period.

    Brian Cummins
    Cleveland City Council, Ward 14

    • name (please enter your name here)

      Of course you are not against the tax, from the looks of your fb page you are a pinko that would tax everyone at 100% to save the whales or something.
      Another useless tax is the sales tax for RTA. We are taxed to have these empty buses clutter the roads. Oh sorry, they are not empty, they have hobos on them at night.

    • lk

      Since “The fact is that the City and Gateway Economic Development Corporation have obligations per agreements with the teams”, why wouldn’t you tax the teams? The public DID NOT make this agreement, why is the public being charged for your poor business sense?

  • Brian J. Cummins

    If you increase ticket prices by $3 you’d get an estimated $8 to $9 million per year. But, this wouldn’t solve everything, you’d still need the sin tax to cover the more than $400 to $600 million needed for the full 20 years.

  • lk

    Why is this up to the public to pay for this, better yet, why is it up to someone that smokes or drinks to pay for this? I pay for anything that needs to be done to my personal property, why am I not getting money from a sin tax to pay for things I want or need done? Start being responsible for your own property and allow the sin tax to be used to things like repairing the streets that we ALL use. Do we really need another sin tax, try adding tax to your already ridiculous ticket prices and charge the people that are using the stadium, then add addition charges to parking as well. Instead of paying $20 to park your vehicle, make it $50, problem solved!

  • jorge

    since we pay for the stadium with sin tax, Why we don,t get profit from it? can,t even go see a game couse can,t afford it, me and my kids stay home, only people that has lot of money can go there, is that fair?

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