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CLEVELAND – The Cleveland Cavaliers have announced that they are withdrawing their participation from The Q Transformation Project, saying that “Time delays due to ‘referendum’ attempt make project unfeasible”.

The Cavs offered to pay for half of the $140 million renovation project. The county and city will fund the other half. The Cavs also pledged to cover any overages in the project.

The transformation was to include:

-Making the arena’s interior more visible from the outside, making The Q more contemporary, inviting, marketable and better connected to the city.
-Create an enhanced, dramatic visual sense of arrival to downtown Cleveland with Gateway as its front door.
-Expand The Q’s public areas including critical entryways, concourses, neighborhood zones, and ancillary function space by almost 40 percent across multiple event levels. This will also open up The Q, making outdated and bottle-necked public areas much less constricted.
-Provide large public gathering places for event attendees prior to events, during event breaks and for satellite activities at the occurring at the same time to main events in the arena bowl.

Construction was to have started this past June, but was delayed by a call to put the renovations on the ballot. There was opposition also from community groups. 

Cleveland City Council and Cuyahoga County Council had voted to approve the renovation.

The Cavs say that the prospective ballot referendum would have delayed groundbreaking and caused the Q to miss the current construction cycle, pushing the cost higher.

In a statement, the Cavs said:

The Cavaliers appreciate the strong leadership of Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish and Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, along with Cuyahoga County Council President Dan Brady and Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley.  Both the Cuyahoga County Council and Cleveland City Council overwhelmingly agreed with the project, by way of supermajority votes of support, understanding that there is a need to update the publicly-owned Quicken Loans Arena for the future benefit of the entire community. United States Congresswoman Marcia Fudge has also been a major supporter.  State Senator Sandra Williams has been a strong advocate as well. There was also tremendous support and partnership from many civic, community and business leaders and organizations both locally and regionally, including the NAACP, the United Pastors in Mission, Cleveland Clergy Coalition, ACEE/Black Contractors Group, the Urban League of Cleveland, the Cleveland Building & Construction Trades Council, Laborer’s International Union Local 310, the President’s Council, Greater Cleveland Partnership, Downtown Cleveland Alliance, Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, and many others.

Civic and community support for the project was earned by the public-friendly, private and self-generating funding source structure being an efficient, significantly less costly and beneficial way to extend the life of a core public asset for the long term.

The Cavaliers organization will no longer participate in the partnership formed for The Q Transformation project and the need for a referendum no longer exists. 

Mayor Frank G. Jackson today released a statement on the Q Transformation Deal:

The Q Transformation Deal was an economic development project that would have resulted in more revenue for the City of Cleveland. It would have created construction and permanent jobs, modernized the facilities and guaranteed the Cavs would remain in our city until at least 2034. The deal was an investment in Cleveland’s future and the future of our neighborhoods. It was good for Cleveland and its people. This is a tremendous loss.”

Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish issued the following statement:

“This is a significant loss for the community. It jeopardizes the future of two key economic generators: The Q and the Cavs. The deal would have guaranteed that the Cavs would stay in Cleveland through 2034 and it would have created and retained many hundreds of jobs for people living in our neighborhoods.

And the deal did not raise anyone’s taxes.

Contrary to misinformation put out by the opposition, the death of this deal actually means there will be less money, not more, available for social and community services for those most in need. By killing this deal, the opponents have harmed the future for our neighborhood residents.”

Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley had this to say:

This is a tremendous loss for Cleveland. This represents a loss of tens of millions of dollars that could have been spent in our neighborhoods. In the short term this means a loss of at least one thousand construction jobs scheduled to begin in September and the loss of the NBA All-Star Game.

The long term consequences that future mayors and councils will have to deal include the loss of tens of millions of dollars that will occur when the Cavaliers lease expires and how to deal with what will then be an obsolete arena owned by the public.

These outside groups – the major organizers against the plan –don’t have the best interests of Cleveland in mind. They will go back to Columbus, the suburbs and Washington D.C. having cost the city millions of dollars that would have gone to Cleveland neighborhoods.


Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11) released the following statement regarding the derailment of The Q public private partnership renovation project.

“This is a disappointing day in Cleveland’s history.  The Q Project would have been very, very good for the city, its neighborhoods and all of its residents.

The Greater Cleveland Congregations’ opposition to this good project was extremely misguided.   I am deeply concerned that this small group of people have derailed the project, along with its thousands of jobs, the extension of the Cavs’ lease, and the NBA All-Star week and its projected $100 million economic impact. 

I am also concerned about the long-term implications of this type of politicking.  Their strong-arm tactics have no place in good community organizing, and, to the contrary, could have a chilling effect on future, cooperative economic development efforts in Cleveland. 

The Cavaliers were offering a very good package that would have guaranteed that The Q would remain a competitive venue for many years to come. The Q is an undisputed economic asset for Cleveland – it generates jobs and millions of tax dollars annually that are used to provide services to the city’s neighborhoods. 

The arena, which is publicly owned, needs to be upgraded to remain competitive. This was our opportunity via a public-private partnership.  Without an upgrade, I am concerned that The Q will eventually become a second-class venue, with fewer events and, therefore, fewer jobs and tax revenues.  That hurts all of Cleveland, and the Cavaliers’ future.” 

Here is a statement from David Gilbert, president & CEO of Destination Cleveland:

“Destination Cleveland supported the renovation of The Q to ensure a competitive arena with an NBA franchise remained in Cleveland for the next generation. We’re disappointed to hear the transformation will not move forward after such a strategic solution to fund the renovation was developed. With only half of the funds coming from public sources, it appeared to be a very good deal for a city of our size.”

The Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus, who pushed for the referendum, released this statement:

The Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus is very pleased that the Cleveland Cavaliers have decided to cancel the Quicken Loans Arena Renovation Project. Despite their stated reason for the cancellation the real reason is that the citizens of Cleveland spoke loud and clear in their opposition to the project by gathering 13,000 valid signatures to force a referendum on the issue. The Cavaliers, Mayor Jackson and Cleveland City Council all know that the project would have been soundly defeated at the ballot box. This is their way of saving face

Greater  Cleveland Congregations released the following:

Since January Greater Cleveland Congregations (GCC) has called on the
Cavaliers, the City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County to work on a
substantive Community Benefits Agreement worthy of the $160 million
of public money directed to the Q Arena expansion. GCC makes no
apologies for prioritizing ending the cycle of using our jails to house the
mentally ill or seeking to employ the jobless. GCC makes no apologies
for standing up for our most vulnerable residents in our most distressed
communities who feel like second class citizens in their own city. GCC
makes no apologies for standing up for the 22,000 people who signed
petitions and were subjected to voter suppression tactics rather being
able to exercise their democratic rights. The loss of this deal squarely
lies at the feet of those who put old school politics above the interests of
the people.

 You can read more about this, here.