CLEVELAND– The deal to renovate Quicken Loans Arena could be back on, after a group that led the drive for a referendum on the ballot withdrew its petitions.
City Clerk Patricia Britt confirmed that Greater Cleveland Congregations officially withdrew the petitions Thursday afternoon. Four of five members of a petition committee submitted a letter to the clerk's office withdrawing the petition.
GCC said in a press release that it agreed to withdraw petitions challenging the deal after a commitment by Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish to mental health and substance abuse crisis centers. The move followed negotiations involving several parties, including Rep. Marcia Fudge.
Budish released the following statement:
"I am very pleased by GCC’s change of heart and their withdrawal of the petitions. As I have said all along, this deal is good for our city, good for the residents of our neighborhoods and our county. Regarding the county’s response to mental health services and to opioid addiction – we are major funders of health and human services which directly address these issues; last year we spent more on health and human services which provide help and a safety net for our residents than we ever have before. Mental health issues and addiction take a tremendous toll takes on everyone -- our friends, neighbors and co-workers. It is tragic and it is imperative that we do as much as we can to respond to these diseases."
On Monday, the Cleveland Cavaliers withdrew its support of the $140-million project. The Cavs said the prospective ballot referendum would have delayed groundbreaking and caused the Q to miss the current construction cycle, pushing the cost higher.
The team had previously committed to paying for at least $70 million of the project, with construction set to begin in June. The City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County were set to fund the other half of the project, with money coming from sources including admission and bed taxes.
Cavaliers and Quicken Loans Arena CEO Len Komoroski released the following statement when petitions were withdrawn:
"We are very encouraged by this new development related to the private-public partnership plan to transform The Q for the long term. We are reviewing the impact of this change and discussing it further with the County, the City and others."
The deal would have extended the Cavs' lease of the arena by 7 years, through 2034. But it faced opposition from some community groups that sought more resources for Cleveland’s neighborhoods.
Amid the negotiations Thursday, Dan Gilbert tweeted about concerns the Cavs could leave Cleveland:
“CLE, Let’s put any silly rumors to rest: I will never move the Cleveland Cavaliers out of Cleveland. Period. And that’s unconditional.”
Under the previously announced deal, the NBA was to host an All-Star Game in Cleveland in 2020 or 2021, but the league said it would not be able to consider Cleveland as the host city unless construction began before September 15.
Fox 8 News has reached out to the Cleveland Cavaliers for comment about the withdrawal of the petitions and whether that affects the team’s position on the deal.