Cleveland Guardians lease extension passes city council

The Cleveland Guardians name is newly installed on a sign outside Progressive Field
Cleveland City Council on Monday passed the city's side of a lease extension deal with the Guardians that will fund repairs and renovations at Progressive Field. [Gabriel Kramer / Ideastream Public Media]
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Cleveland City Council has approved its side of a lease deal to keep Major League Baseball in town through 2036 and upgrade Progressive Field with public funds.

The deal commits money from the city, Cuyahoga County and state of Ohio toward repairs and improvements at the home of the newly renamed Cleveland Guardians. The team will shoulder about a third of the deal’s overall cost, which is estimated at approximately $435 million.

Under the legislation passed Monday night, Cleveland will pay $8.4 million annually over the 15 years of the extended lease.

That money will come from admissions tax collections at the field, revenue from a city-owned parking garage on the site, the sale of garage naming rights and a reserve fund created by a prior stadium deal.

The city will also pay $350,000 yearly from its general fund, the pool of money used for basic city staff and services. That amount could grow if revenue from the garage or naming rights fall short of expectations.

On Monday night, 13 city council members voted for the deal and three opposed it: Michael Polensek of Ward 8, Jenny Spencer of Ward 15 and Brian Mooney of Ward 11.

Cleveland follows Cuyahoga County Council, which passed its side of the deal in a 9-1 vote Nov. 9. The county will pay about $8 million a year, plus a one-time payment of $11.6 million.

The county’s annual payments will come from the general fund, hotel bed tax revenues and a tax on alcohol and cigarettes.

One final piece of the puzzle remains to be put into place: a $2 million annual commitment from the state.

The deal will fund $202.5 million in renovations at the field, including makeovers of the upper deck, left field terraces, dugout area and office space.

The public will pay for capital repairs at the field, according to a terms sheet attached to the city and county legislation. The team will cover property taxes and the operational costs of Gateway Economic Development Corporation, the quasi-public entity that owns Progressive Field and Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

The deal opens the door for another lease renewal of 5 to 10 years after the 15 year term is up, provided the city and county can pay for more repairs and improvements at the field.

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