CLEVELAND--The controversy over making renovations to Quicken Loans Arena could block Cleveland's chances of hosting an NBA All-Star game in the near future.
The NBA sent a letter stating that the work has to start soon, or the city will be knocked out of consideration.
"Why do the taxpayers of the city of Cleveland have to pay for that; shouldn't the Greater Cleveland Partners and Dan Gilbert be able to pay what will then yield them huge amounts of money afterwards?" asked Steve Holecko, political director for the Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus.
Several grassroots groups have filed suit, temporarily blocking the renovation of Quicken Loans Arena.
They believe some of the $70 million the city and county have agreed to put toward the $140-million renovation should go toward improving neighborhoods. The groups want the Ohio Supreme Court to allow voters to decide.
"Why does the glass atrium and the renovations have to occur for the All-Star Game to come here?" said Holecko.
In the letter from the NBA to the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, it said "...we will not be able to consider Cleveland as the host city for NBA All-Star 2020 or 2021 unless construction of the Q's Transformation project begins on or before September 15, 2017."
It goes on to say "we have already delayed the awarding of these All Stars to accommodate Cleveland and unfortunately, we cannot ask the other NBA cities that have held these dates open to wait any longer."
The head of the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission says the event would bring in $100 million. David Gilbert responded, in part..."This letter is not surprising as we have always known that having a new or significantly renovated arena is a key component of any bid."
"The building is basically 20 years old, almost 20 years old and it's in good shape. I understand what he wants to do, but some want money to go to other places," said a downtown sports fan.
"I'm wondering if that's their way of trying to make people settle for that," said another Cleveland sports fan.
"It's like what you would see in a political campaign; it's like, look Cleveland, these grassroots activists are gonna prevent you from getting the All-Star Game," said Holecko.
If the Q transformation goes forward, the Cavaliers will extend their lease at the arena through 2034. Both sides can still submit paperwork to the Ohio Supreme Court.
No word on when the court will make a decision, or whether it will be before the NBA's September 15 deadline.