CLEVELAND – More than 100 local faith leaders traveled to Quicken Loans headquarters in Detroit Tuesday to voice their concerns about a proposed $140 million renovation to Quicken Loans Arena.
Members of Greater Cleveland Congregations boarded three buses and departed from Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland Tuesday morning.
As Cleveland City Council began reviewing the proposal, the religious leaders planned to take their argument for broader investment in the county’s neighborhoods directly to Cavs owner and Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert. The group united with members of Detroit Regional Interfaith Voice for Equity.
“We’re not opposed to a deal with the Cavaliers, but what we would like to see is some investment in neighborhoods throughout the county,” said Linda Robinson, with St. James AME Church. “We love the Cavaliers. We love them. We want them to stay here. But we want people to recognize and understand it’s not just about downtown Cleveland and the Q.”
The proposed renovation would add a glass enclosure to expand space in the county-owned building.
Funding would be split between the Cavs and existing tax revenue, including from the county bed tax, money left over from construction of the Hilton Hotel and convention center, and Q sales and admissions taxes.
Cleveland City Council had its first hearing of an emergency resolution to provide the funding at its meeting Monday night. Some council members voiced concern that money is being spent downtown instead of in impoverished neighborhoods.
“It’s about equity,” said Ward 2 Councilman Zack Reed. “What is the return on our investment? That has to be our question going forward.”
The proposal would keep the Cavs in Cleveland through at least 2034 and proponents argued it would cost a fraction of building a new arena. The Q is currently at the average – 22 year – lifespan for a professional basketball arena.
“We have to consider, what is the cost of doing nothing? What happens if we do nothing? We can’t just ignore that possibility,” Council President Kevin Kelley said.
City Council will now study the economic impact of the investment and hold hearings over the proposal in the coming weeks.
The funding would require approval by both Cleveland City Council and Cuyahoga County Council.