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New Lease Agreement Keeps Cleveland Indians In Cleveland

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at August 5, 2021

How old is Cleveland’s Progressive Field?

The year it opened the Indians’ outfield was Albert Belle, Kenny Lofton, and Manny Ramirez. That was a state-of-the-art outfield, and the new ballpark was a state-of-the-art ballpark.

The year was 1994.

The Indians no longer have a state-of-the-art outfield, but on Thursday, the Indians, the City of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, and the State of Ohio collectively reached an agreement on keeping Progressive Field a state-of-the-art ballpark.

The agreement would extend the Indians’ lease of the ballpark through 2036. The current lease is scheduled to expire following the 2023 season. The agreement, which also includes two five-year options that would carry it through 2046, still requires legislative approval.

It also quashes speculation that the franchise might relocate.

 “Our organization is proud to continue our long-term commitment to Cleveland by ensuring we keep our ballpark competitive,” said Indians owner Paul Dolan in a release. “We want to give our fans, our community, and our players the best ballpark experience possible. We are excited and appreciate the collaborative effort displayed by leadership from the county, city, and state to help make this first step possible and look forward to the next stages in the legislative process to finalize the agreement.”

Progressive Field has aged gracefully. Visually, it is still an impressive ballpark, with a current capacity of 35,000, located in downtown Cleveland. However, all four partners in the proposed agreement would contribute a combined $435 million on renovations for the ballpark.

According to the release, the average annual impact of the ballpark and Cleveland’s baseball team is $323 million in direct spending by the team and its visitors, $21 million in state, city and county taxes, and it helps to create and support more than 4,800 jobs. Indians games bring about 1.7 million people to the city annually.

“This project ensures that Progressive Field remains competitive in the future and guarantees that baseball remains in Cleveland until at least 2036,” Mayor Frank G. Jackson said. “We are one of a few cities that have three major sports teams all located in a central business district. This shows that sports are important to the economic vitality of our hospitality industry and baseball specifically is critical to Cleveland’s future.”

The new lease will include funding for capital repairs, maintenance, operations costs and property taxes. The city of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County collectively will contribute $17 million annually. The state of Ohio will contribute $2 million annually, and the Indians organization will contribute $10 million annually, $4.5 million of that towards ballpark improvements.

“The Indians have been excellent partners and we are pleased to see that this vital public-private partnership is preserved,” said Governor Mike DeWine. “This four-party agreement will keep Progressive Field competitive for many years and decades to come.”

Progressive Field, which is the 11th oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball, is now 27 years old. It has outlasted Major League Baseball stadiums in Arlington, Tex. and Atlanta, which were replaced after 26 and 20 years respectively.

According to the press release, since Progressive Field, which is a publicly owned facility, opened in 1994, the Indians’ organization has paid over $179 million for maintenance, repairs, capital expenditures and operating costs.

“Updating Progressive Field is much less costly than building new,” said County Executive Armond Budish. “New venues typically cost about $1 billion without considering any maintenance or repairs over time. This is a responsible investment in a public asset to maintain its competitiveness.”

The Dolan family bought the Indians from Richard E. Jacobs for $323 million in 2000. According to Forbes’ 2021 rankings, the current value of the franchise is $1.16 billion, which ranks 25th among the 30 major league teams. The ballclub recently announced it will change its name to the Guardians following the 2021 season.


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