The NBA won’t be awarding a future All-Star Game to Cleveland anytime soon.
The Cavaliers announced Monday they have scrapped a $140 million renovation plan for Quicken Loans Arena. The NBA had previously deemed improvements necessary in order to grant Cleveland its first All-Star Game since 1997.
The Cavs were going to fund half the project, with the remaining $70 million to come from public funding. However, community groups opposed the use of tax money and the Ohio Supreme Court recently ordered Cleveland City Council to accept referendum petitions that could have put the issue on the ballot.
The Q opened in October 1994 as Gund Arena and took its current name in August 2005, soon after Dan Gilbert bought the Cavs. The building hosted the All-Star Game in 1997, when the NBA announced its “50 Greatest Players” to coincide with the league’s 50th anniversary.
The Cavs announced eight months ago that The Q was going to be “transformed” to create more space for dining, bars and public gatherings. Plans also included a glass exterior on the front of the building.
Construction was scheduled to begin in June but was held up due to opposition from local groups, who argued the city’s neighborhoods wouldn’t benefit from the makeover.
That ultimately led to Gilbert’s decision to withdraw from the project, with the organization saying in a lengthy press release that “time delays due to the ‘referendum’ make (the) project unfeasible.”
The Cavs also said the delay to the start of the renovation would have pushed “the overall price tag of the project higher due to rising construction costs. In addition, a time sensitive financing package that included historically low interest rates would be negatively impacted by further delay due to a prospective referendum.”
Cleveland City Council had approved the use of tax money, but the referendum meant the issue would have had to go before voters, which likely wouldn’t have occurred until 2018.
The Cavs said the construction project would have generated more than 2,500 jobs, increased tax revenue to the city’s general fund and brought the All-Star Game to Cleveland in 2020 or 2021, which would have a “$100 million+ economic impact.”
“The Q is the oldest arena in the NBA without a major structural renovation,” the Cavs said in their release. “The renovation project would have extended the life of The Q to over 40 years when the average life of similar facilities is only 22 years in the NBA.
“The $140 million transformation investment is a fraction of the cost of a new arena, which today would cost between $500-800 million.”
The release went on the say the Cavs and The Q have generated more than $2.7 billion in economic activity, created thousands of jobs, produced almost $500 million in state and local tax revenue and contributed more than $42 million in community, civic and charitable funding.
“Quicken Loans Arena brings over 2 million people a year to downtown Cleveland and last year alone produced $245 million in economic activity, including the (Republican National Convention) and the NBA Finals,” Cavs CEO Len Komoroski said in the press release. “This facility is Cleveland’s gateway to the world.
“The investments over the years into The Q have paid back multiples in economic impact, job creation and tax generation,” he added. “It is very disappointing to see our further private investment into The Q Transformation project reach this ending point.”
- There hasn’t been a lot of recent news regarding the Cavs-Celtics trade that sent Kyrie Irving to Boston and brought Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder and Ante Zizic to Cleveland, along with a 2018 first-round pick that originally belonged to Brooklyn. The fact the Cavs have not rescinded the trade — they could do so if Thomas failed his physical — could be a sign they are willing to go forward with the deal, but may be trying to get the Celtics to sweeten the pot a bit. Thomas missed the last three games of the Eastern Conference finals against Cleveland due to a hip injury and elected not to have offseason surgery. Numerous reports said his physical with the Cavs set off a few alarms.
- Four-time league MVP LeBron James will leave this week for his annual Nike tour of Asia and is expected to invite Cavs teammates to work out in the Los Angeles area soon after he returns. James also held the workouts last year in advance of training camp.