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Petition Could Force Referendum on Quicken Loans Arena Funds

Quicken Loans Arena Renovation

Enough valid signatures have been gathered to potentially force a referendum on a proposed Quicken Loans Arena renovation, according to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.

Petitioners have been seeking to place public funds for a renovation to Quicken Loans Arena—home to the Cleveland Cavaliers—on the ballot for voter consideration. This comes after officials approved a $140 million plan for the venue that involves Cuyahoga County, Destination Cleveland, the City of Cleveland, and the Cavaliers.

A coalition that includes the Greater Cleveland Congregations, Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus, and Service Employees International Union District 1199 led the push to have the proposal placed on the ballot after the Cleveland City Council approved the city’s contribution—estimated to be $88 million over 11 years from an admissions tax, beginning in 2024—and the Ohio Supreme Court recently ruled that the group’s petitions had to be accepted by a city clerk. Upon review, it was confirmed that the group had obtained 13,072 valid signatures from voters in Cleveland.

From here, the Cleveland City Council must consider the matter, and could decide whether to repeal its funding ordinance for the project or consent to an election. The timing on when an election would be held remains to be seen. More from The Cleveland Plain Dealer:

The charter requires that the clerk present the issue to City Council at a regularly scheduled meeting. The charter also requires that at least 60 days pass before voters can actually vote on the issue.

Council’s next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 18. If nothing changes, that would not allow 60 days to pass before the Nov. 7 election.

If the issue were put up for a special election the city would have to reimburse the elections board for the costs, about $760,000. The next scheduled election after Nov. 7 is in May 2018.

What remains to be seen is if it could be pushed back until next May. While the charter allows council to hold a special vote if there is no regular election between 60 days and six months out, the language in the charter leaves the door open for a vote later than that.

Renovations to Quicken Loans Arena had been pitched as a way to modernize the venue while allowing it to compete for high-profile events, including a future NBA All-Star Game. The arena has been home to the Cavaliers since its opening in 1994.

RELATED STORIES: Quicken Loans Arena Renovation Could be Review by Ohio Supreme CourtCity to Fund Quicken Loans Arena ImprovementsCleveland Closer to Funding Quicken Loans Arena RenovationFunding Approved for Quicken Loans Arena RenovationProposed Quicken Loans Arena Renovation Moves Forward

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