February 5th, 2016

Cuyahoga County paid bondholders for the 1990 construction overruns of the Quicken (then Gund) arena another $8,321,713 on Jan. 15th.

Yes, we’re still paying on 1990 debts for Gateway.

The County does it every Jan. 15th and will through to 2023.

So far the bonds—thanks to Tim Hagan, Mary Boyle and Jim Petro—have cost taxpayers here $163 million. Old County Commissioner, same as the new. Giving it away.

That’s not peanuts, folks. That’s real cold cash. Your cash.

I warned back in 1992 that the bonds could cost some $300 million. We’re getting there. With 16 more years to pay at about $8.3 plus million a year it would bring the cost to County taxpayers to more than $295.8 million. So call me wrong. It’s not $300-million.

I’ve tried to get the Plain Dealer and the Cleveland Scene to cover this money loss. They apparently don’t see it. They’re busy with Johnny Whoever. And new restaurants downtown.

(Brent Larkin in his latest column on line squawks bitterly about a proposed $5 million state contribution to allow the Browns to practice in a new facility in Columbus. He has never uttered a word about these January payments, going back years, and to continue for years. What a phony.)

The Jan. 15th payments were made in two ways. Cuyahoga County itself paid from its general fund $3,003,823. Last year it paid $5.3 million.

The rest of the money also comes from public sources.

Mayor Frank Jackson has called for an increase in the city’s income (really payroll) tax from 2 to 2.5 percent. He threatens, as usual, if it doesn’t pass that you won’t get the potholes fixed. When have they been fixed?

He will also cry about the extra police costs. Yet, the city reported to me late last year that 34,173 hours of police time had been expended at Progressive Field, Quicken Arena and Browns Stadium.

He won’t tell you that $3,856,936 of city admission taxes from games and events at Quicken Arena didn’t go to the city, as they should. That amount went instead to pay off these bondholders.

Another $1,460,954 of bed taxes went to help pay off these bonds.

Larkin who is crying about the $5 million has avoided comment on the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on our sports teams. He favored every sin tax on the ballot. By the end of this newest 20 year sin tax extension we Cuyahoga County taxpayers will have shelled out a half billion dollars. Larkin cries about a $5 million tax spread across the State of Ohio. I wonder why. Ask the Greater Cleveland Partnership.

Losing the Browns to Columbus could be the best gift the city ever got. Let them subsidize the losers.

By Roldo Bartimole…


  1. David Eden says:

    As always, Roldo, you are on target. Your comment about Brent Larkin also is oh so true.

  2. Arnie Berger says:

    Long term interest rates are about a third of what they were in the 1990s. Corporations have repaid this expensive debt with equity or by refinancing at much lower rates. What about these Gateway bonds? Do they allow early payoff (with funds coming from cheaper bonds) and if so has that been tried, and if not why not?

    Or is the answer simply that government funding is a world to itself, with none of the flexible provisions found in private sector finance.

  3. Thanks David. Always appreciate your comments and we agree on the PD and Larking.

    Bernie: Don’t know the answer to your question but likely our wonderful lawyers hired by the county in this case Squire Sanders likely favored the bondholders, not the taxpayers.

    • Norman Lange says:

      Actually Squires Patton Boggs would love to refinance since it would generate more revenue

  4. Roldo Bartimole says:

    Norm: You are rigt they make dough coming and going. I’m not positive but I believe they have refinanced at least once along the way.


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