Cleveland officials are asking the Ohio Supreme Court to decide if a referendum on renovations to Quicken Loans Arena can take place.
Quicken Loans Arena, home of the Cleveland Cavaliers, has been slated for a renovation project that will be funded by contributions from the team, city, Cuyahoga County, and Destination Cleveland. For its contribution, Cleveland has approved the use of approximately $8 million per year from admissions tax revenue generated by events at the arena for a period of 11 years, beginning in 2024.
A coalition of groups has spoken out against the project, and recently submitted more than 20,000 signatures in favor of placing the issue on a voter referendum. However, the petitions were not accepted by the city on the basis that doing so would unconstitutionally interfere with a contract that Cleveland has with Cuyahoga County.
Now, it could be in the hands of the Ohio Supreme Court to consider the issue. On Monday, Cleveland officials–including mayor Frank Jackson and city council president Kevin Kelley–said that the city is asking the court to consider the matter. More from Cleveland.com:
When the group tried to submit the petitions, they were refused. A spokesman the clerk of council said that accepting the petitions would interfere with an existing contract – the one with Cuyahoga County over financing The Q deal – and that would be unconstitutional.
Cleveland lawyers Subodh Chandra and Peter Pattakos, shortly after that, wrote the city on behalf of Cleveland taxpayers in the coalition demanding that the law director file legal action to force the clerk to accept the petitions, as provide under terms of the city charter. Otherwise, they said, they would file a taxpayer lawsuit against the city.
With the announcement Monday, Kelley and Jackson said outside counsel would be hired for both the law director, Barbara Langhenry, who usually represents city government, and for Clerk of Council Patricia Britt.
The reason for filing directly with the Ohio Supreme Court is to try to speed resolution of the case. That process still could take several weeks.
“What the court says will be the rule of law that we will follow,” Kelley said.
The Quicken Loans Arena renovation has been pitched by supporters as a way to keep the arena viable for major events in the future. The cost of the project, before interest, is estimated to be $140 million.
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