December 14th, 2016

[Update at 1009—Roldo comments: This deal is worse than I thought. The PD this a.m. says the County will borrow the full $140 million with interest a cost of $244 million. JH]

Our sports robber barons are at it again. On the loose.

What phonies and what liars.

Now they want another $70 million with an unknown borrowing cost to be paid to fancy up the Quicken Arena for billionaire Dan Gilbert. That doesn’t include 18 years of bond payments, likely to double the cost.

Both Mayor Frank Jackson and County Executive Armond Budish appeared at the Q to sell the deal, or sellout their constituents. The thing these two do.

The County is more than $1 billion in debt and has, as the city, many unmet needs. Not basketballs, baseballs or footballs.

They are going to tap the bed tax, having extended it for 40 years. Forty years! Can you imagine extending a tax for 40 years for a sports billionaire? The vote by the County Council was 10-1 with only Sunny Simon showing some common sense.

If it comes in at about $15 million a year, as it has, it will be $600 million! That’s $600 million. $600 million that could be used for real needs in this city & county.

Don’t forget that you voters already passed a sin tax that will add some $260 million to your taxes but apparently not enough to satisfy Gilbert, Jackson and Budish, not to mention the City Council and County Council. Of course, the sin tax raised already $375-million.

They will go along, already bought and paid for. How could you think otherwise?

What doesn’t get said is that the Quicken Arena ALREADY is into the bed tax every year, as it with the city’s admission tax, another pot for this latest scheme to update the arena.

For example, in 2010, because I happen to have the data sheet, the bed tax, called “excess” bed tax, went to help pay for the Quicken Arena overruns back in the early 1990s. How much? $1,425,101.

And the admission tax also went to pay for bonds—pushed by Mary Boyle and Tim Hagan back in the 1990s—were diverted to pay for the arena bonds at $4,166,481.

Those figures are for one year. All paid for by Cavs attendance.

How much have bonds been costing? Since 2000, $154.8 million. From the county’s general fund alone? $88.7 million. Where possibly could this money have been used? To cut infant deaths?

In less than a month Cuyahoga County will pay again on the arena bonds. Again money will be taken from the county general fund, from the bed tax and from the admission tax. And paid bondholders, possibly $8-million or more.

It’s really a crime in progress—year after year. Until 2023.

And now we’ll add another bond payment, exceeding 2023.

It was interesting to see Tim Offtermatt, who just left his chairman seat on the Gateway board, and Fred Nance, chief honcho at Squire-Sanders, at the meeting selling this latest public robbery. They’ve done it before.

Of course they were there. There are bonds involved and who do you think will be handling the bond work. Would you bet Offtermatt and Nance? Nance, who had a time pulling himself to the stage at the news conference, told us a bit of truth. He said that Cleveland was “punching above its weight,” in other words it lacks the capacity to pay for these three professional teams needs. He knows that. Tim knows that. But they will collect their fees.

Nance surely knows the game. He did the dance that sold the Browns stadium to us at such a bargain price that the city pays everything but Jimmy and Dee Haslam’s jet plane ride here every few weeks a year. Presumably, their other customers pay for that.

The NBA is a $54 billion outfit and what will they contribute—a week of special events, they say. It hurts too much to laugh.

The Cavs are valued at $1.1 billion but can’t pay their bills. I mentioned last week that the Cavs have an operating income of $24.8 million, total revenue of $191 million. I also reported from Forbes magazine figures that it had gate receipts of $52 million and each attendee spent $69, or $1.39 million a game at the 20,000 attendance and $56.5 million for the 41 home games. For food, drink and trinkets.

That’s $56 million. But they can’t pay their own bills.

However, the people of Glenville, West Park, Hough, Kamm Corner, Garfield Heights, Parma, and the rest of the County taxpayers have to dig into their pockets to help Dan “Casino” Gilbert.

He also takes the naming rights, Quicken Arena. Where does that money go? From one Gilbert pocket to another. A million dollars or so.

The revenue from the admission tax (city only) and bed tax (county-wide) could go for a hundred or a thousand needs throughout Cuyahoga County.

Except for these greedy, greedy people.

Jackson and Budish are bought-off politicians. Captives of the Greater Cleveland Partnership. Wasn’t that Joe Roman sitting in the front row?

The gang was all there.

And do I have to repeat again that none of the three sports facilities pay a penny of property taxes on their structures. (Gateway pays $1-million on land; and the city pays some $500,000 on the land under Browns stadium). Otherwise, the three sports robber barons avoid some $16 million a year in property taxes because of state legislation to exempt them FOREVER!

A nose-thumb to the Cleveland school kids.

Len Komoroski, Cavs CEO and a casino exec, told the news conference that in addition to the Cavs take from the arena games, Gilbert and his honchos have 200 other public events and 1,400 private events.

Presumably, these events bring people there who pay and buy and produce more income for Gilbert and his outfit.

But does the public share in this income and those profits, having paid to build the arena, its restaurants and other facilities?

The answer is NO.

The public gets the bill. With interest, don’t you know?

By Roldo Bartimole…


  1. This deal is worse than I thought. The PD this a.m. says the County will borrow the full $140 million with interest a cost of $244 million.

  2. Garry Kanter says:

    Vote every last one of these fake-progressives out of office.

Leave a Reply

To prove you're a person (not a spam script), type the security word shown in the picture. Click on the picture to hear an audio file of the word.
Anti-spam image