Saturday, January 26, 2013

ROLDO on pro sports teams - pay the costs themselves

The best answer, of course, is to tell the very, very rich sports owners and their many wealthy plays to pay the costs themselves. No more sin taxes or any other.

The football stadium is financed by the taxes you mentioned - sin tax, 8% parking tax, $2 on every vehicle rental plus an additional 2 percent on the admission tax.

We've paid much too much for sports in this town.

Here are some figures from the county that were compiled for me and give somewhat of a real picture of the costs, though not all, since the city is losing huge amounts on garages, having given the teams so many free parking spots, and huge amounts on forgiven property taxes.

Here is that list:

Here are some figures of the tax outlay for Gateway and the Browns stadium. Not mine. Most 2012 from the current County Auditor's department:

Yeah, that much.

Total Cost thus far: $460.2 Million. This is the most comprehensive accounting of the public cost of Cleveland's sports venues anyone has produced.

(I wonder if the IRS ever thinks of totting all this free stuff for income tax purposes. They seem ready to do it for Jimmy Dimora.)

Let's stop this madness.

It's not over. Some payments continue to 2023. So it will be more than $460 million. (Note: Much more).

The tab is even still higher. We could add $37 million from State of Ohio; $3 million RTA; $2.24 million Cleveland Sewer Dept.; $1/2 million City Water Dept. That's just for Browns stadium.

I don't have current figures for what Clevelanders are paying on bonds for the football stadium. However, by May 2009 the city had paid $102,823,947 and still owed $160,367,109 for bonds. Payments extend to 2027.

In addition to the sin tax money, the city - to pay for Browns stadium - added an 8 percent tax on all parking in the city; raised the admission tax on all events by 2 per cent; and added a $2 a car rental fee. All dedicated to pay Lerner's bills. (A full discussion of the Browns funding is here: How Good it Gets for the Lerner Family).

Best and thanks for your work Brian,

Roldo Bartimole
Roldo Bartimole has been reporting since 1959. He came to Cleveland in 1965 to report for the Plain Dealer where he worked twice in the 1960s, left for the Wall Street Journal in 1967. He started publishing his newsletter Point of View in 1968 and ended it in 2000.

In 1991 he was awarded the Second Annual Joe Callaway Award for Civic Courage in Washington, D.C. He received the Distinguished Service Award of the Society of Professional Journalists, Cleveland chapter, in 2002, and was named to the Cleveland Journalism Hall of Fame, 2004.
[Photo by Todd Bartimole.]

Pro Sports Player Salaries & Anticipated NFL TV/Media Revenue come 2014

On our facebook conversation, someone suggested - 

"Pay the players a little less. I know this will not be popular. But, alot of people take paycuts."

Pro-sports players make a lot of money so I can understand her sentiment of hey, let them kick in some money! Some make more in one year than an average person would earn in their life time. But of all the pro sports, people have commented that the NFL is the league where players can get beat-up and injured the most and the risk of their careers being cut short is high.

Here are the average salaries per player per year for the 2010-11 seasons; number of players in each league and amount of money they make for each game played:
  1. NBA, $5.5 million (450 players, $61k per game)
  2. MLB $3.3 million (750 players, $20k per game)
  3. NFL $1.9 million (1,606 players, $119k per game)
Overall, NFL players get a 47% cut of total NFL revenues (4.6 billion of $9.7 billion) and apart from their salaries, a good size chunk is used for benefits, former players pensions and care etc...

For those curious to know what their favorate player is making see the following links:
  1. Cleveland Indians Player Salaries 2012-2013 - $74 million
  2. Cleveland Browns Player Salaries 2012-2013 - $69 million
  3. Cleveland Cavaliers Player Salaries 2012-2013 - $63 million
Team owners get 53% of Total NFL revenues, or $5.1 billion, and these owners are who the City, County and Gateway Econ. Dvlp. Corp have agreements with.

NFL TV/Media Revenue

The NFL negotiated most of their TV/Media contracts in 2011 for contracts that will expire this year.  For the new contract period 2014 - 2022 the NFL is expected to collect about $6 billion per year, or $187.5 million per year per team.  This represents a 173% increase in annual team TV/Media revenues from the 1998 - 2005 period.

To compare, here are the approximate figures for TV/Media revenue generated for the years beginning the time the new Cleveland Browns Stadium was opened (1999)

1998 - 2005; $2.2 billion ($68.8 million per team)
2006 - 2012; $3.1 billion ($96.9 million per team)

To be fair to the players, here is a cartoon depicting the NFL team owners money problems:

What to do when the sin tax for the sports facilities ends in 2015?

Jason Russell of the Civic Commons, in his piece “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”, suggests spreading the dirty deed of the sin tax and to, "extend the sin tax to all counties that touch Cuyahoga County". He points out that the facilities draw spectators from the region so why shouldn't the expense of the facilities be shared by the region?

What should we consider in terms of the 2015 expiration of the sin tax?


Currently the Browns have the best deal of the three teams.  The City’s responsible for the debt and financing for construction and capital repairs and they keep all of the revenue generated except some fees paid to the NFL and a share of NFL media revenue.

The Indians and Cavaliers renegotiated their leases with the Gateway Economic Development Corporation in 2004 so the teams cover the debt.  But, there are major capital repairs and improvements anticipated that are not covered under agreements. The City is stuck with expenses for the parking lot.

The main considerations are what are the revenues needed by the teams to be successful and what payments can the City and County, and possibly the region afford?  So what are our options?

  1. Do nothing - the City of Cleveland will be on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars for the debt, financing cost, capital repair requirements, and property taxes associated with the stadium and property. 
         The Gateway Economic Development Corporation and Cuyahoga County will need to come up with funding for capital repairs and improvements that are being considered. 
    The debts for construction of the gateway facilities have been reported as being taken care of by rents from the teams that were renegotiated in 2004.  They include approximately $70 million for arena not including finance cost, with payments through 2023 and, a remaining $6 million in ballpark debt is anticipated to be paid-off by 2014.
  2. Ask voters to renew the sin-tax - Continue applying what is generally accepted as a regressive tax – has a greater impact on lower-income persons than higher.  The current sin taxes being levied for the sports facilities are:
      - 4.5 cents per pack of cigarettes; 
      - 6.0 cents per gallon of beer, or 3 cents per 12 ounce bottle; and,   - 12.7 cents per 740 ml bottle of wine
  3. Ask sports teams to pay more under their lease agreements – an unlikely scenario due to existing contract terms, although the Indians and Cavaliers renegotiate their lease terms in 2004.  Would the Browns be willing to do the same?  And, what about the capital expenses anticipated but not covered for the Gateway arena and ballpark?
  4. Increase the admission tax for all three sports teams – The City would have the authority to carry this out.  How much money would be needed?  The three teams and facilities have different needs in terms of the liabilities, costs and revenue requirements.  The Browns are reported to have one of the lowest seat pricings in the league.  Would they accept a higher admission tax on seats that would then limit their own ability to raise admission taxes?  And, what about premium, club seating and loge revenues?
  5. Better utilize revenue potential for City sponsored events – The City of Cleveland has the rights under the lease to use the Browns Stadium eight times per year.  What is the net-revenue potential for using all eight days, and how could the stadium be better utilized by the City?
  6. Other revenue generating resources - At the time the deals were made for the facilities there were increases to parking and rental car taxes.  The new Cleveland Convention Center and Medical Mart are being funded by a Cuyahoga County sales Tax  (.25 cents – another regressive tax).  Property taxes just took a hit in Cleveland via the CMSD (15 mill school levy).  What other sources are there?
  7. What am I missing?

Call for increased private investment by sports teams to balance large public subsidies that will need to continue through 2028.  1.18.2013

Friday, January 25, 2013

Poverty Tour 2.0 with Tavis Smiley and Cornel West featuring Green Party members Councilman Brian Cummins and Presidential Candidate Jill Stein as well as Congress Representatives Marcy Kaptur, Dennis Kucinich, George C. Fraser and more

The first stop of The Poverty Tour 2.0 with Tavis Smiley and Cornel West in the Westfield Insurance Studio, Idea Center at Playhouse Square, Cleveland Ohio, USA, tookplace on September 26, 2012, in partnership with Public Radio International and WVIZ/PBS and 90.3 WCPN ideastream, Pacifica Network and Native Voice One 

The video below presents highlights from the first stop on The Poverty Tour 2.0 in Cleveland, OH with Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Cleveland City Councilman Brian Cummins, George C. Fraser, Chairman and CEO of FraserNet, Inc., SEIU Justice for Janitors organizers Laurie Couch and Sandra Ellington, Chris Cooper from Kent State University’s Ohio Employee Ownership Center, Green Clean Co-op worker-owner Mary Vel Vera, and Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein.

Video guide

  • 00:00 - 23:17, entertainment by the House Band - Jeff MoyerKevin RichardsJoe HunterEd Lemmers, Haris Evastovalis; and, introductory comments regarding the kick-off of Poverty Tour 2.0.
  • 23:18 - 25:17, Official kick-off and introductions
  • 25:18 - 29:27, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur
  • 29:28 - 32:15, Councilman Brian Cummins
  • 32:16 - 39:10, George C. Fraser
  • 39:11 - 45:32, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur
  • 45:33 - 46:47, Commercial Break, entertainment by the House Band
  • 46:48 - 54:04 , George C. Fraser
  • 54:05 - 58:12, Councilman Brian Cummins
  • 58:13 - 1:05:18, Commercial Break, entertainment by the House Band
  • 1:05:19 - 1:20:08, SEIU Justice for Janitors organizers Laurie Couch and Sandra Ellington
  • 1:05:19 - 1:21:40, Commercial Break, entertainment by the House Band
  • 1:21:41 - 1:41:55, Chris Cooper from Kent State University’s Ohio Employee Ownership Center, Green Clean Co-op worker-owner Mary Vel Vera
  • 1:41:56 - 1:43:23, Commercial Break, entertainment by the House Band
  • 1:43:24 - 1:58:13, Audience comments and Q & A
  • 1:58:14 - 2:05:25 Commercial Break, entertainment by the House Band
  • 2:05:26 - 2:17:05, David Johnson, Census Bureau Announcement on poverty
  • 2:17:06 - 2:18:00, Commercial Break, entertainment by the House Band
  • 2:18:01 - 2:33:06 Congressman Dennis Kucinich
  • 2:33:07 - 2:36:57, Reverend Tom Gerstenlauer, Miller Avenue United Church
  • 2:36:58 -  2:38:10 Commercial Break, entertainment by the House Band
  • 2:38:11 -  2:56:08, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein
  • 2:56:09 - 3:03:47, Audience comments and Q & A and closing

(L-R) Tavis Smiley, Brian Cummins, Cornel West and George C. Fraser.

“In this nation I see tens of millions of its citizens, a substantial part of its whole population, who at this very moment are denied the greater part of what the very lowest standards of today call the necessities of life.” 

- Franklin D. Roosevelt

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Councilman Calls On Sports Teams To Boost Investments In Cleveland

Ideastream audio file posted: Sunday, January 20, 2013

"...we have to look at the equities of who’s paying for what, and who’s getting what services, and is it fair?...

If we go to voters for renewal, it’s not just about raising taxes, it’s about paying off and maintaining facilities that should be benefiting our city and our county.”

- Councilman Brian Cummins, Cleveland City Council, Ward 14

Friday, January 18, 2013

Cleveland Browns Stadium gets new name as old sin tax expires in 2015

Call for increased private investment by sports teams to balance large public subsidies that will need to continue through 2028.

Renderings from FirstEnergy Corp. of Browns Stadium.
FirstEnergy Corp.has bought the naming rights of the stadium.

[Updated Friday 1.18.13:  to include sin tax spreadsheet published by the Plain Dealer as well as property value and tax information.]

The following is an attempt to document the funding, payment and revenue generation of Cleveland's sports facilities.  It's also a call for a larger discussion on how the lopsided public investment can be better leveraged for a fairer and increased share of private investment.

In light of the new ownership of the Cleveland Browns and the recent announcement of a multi-million dollar naming rights deal with FirstEnergy, there is a need to begin serious due diligence in assessing the City of Cleveland's remaining debt and interest obligations and schedule of payments for maintenance obligated under the lease.

This is particularly important as the two voter-approved county sin tax levies (1990 and 1995) expire in 2015.  Additionally, there have been previous reports of the Gateway sports complexes potentially needing infusions of money for additional capital repairs and improvements.

A discussion of renewing the current sin tax in Cuyahoga County will require collaboration from the City of Cleveland, all three professional sports teams, Cuyahoga County and critically the Ohio State Legislature.  The public deserves to be informed as to why a renewal/extension on the 25-year sin tax will be required and what are the investments returning to the public?

With the agressive new ownership of the Cleveland Browns quickly getting down to the business of selling the City's stadium naming rights, it's ripe for the City to be agressive in leading a serious and open discussion about how the funding of Cleveland's sports facilities and the resulting subsidies to the teams can leverage more benefits to the city and and county tax payers.

In particular, the Browns, under the former owner, were considering a commitment to collaborate with the City and the Port Authority in developing a mixed-use project that included plans for athletic fields and a sports-medicine/wellness facility on land north of the stadium. (Source: Laura Johnston, The Plain Dealer, 9.18.2012).

Such plans need to be re-considered by the new ownership and private investment needs to occur in relative proportion to the investment the City has and will continue to make in paying for the stadium.  Thus far the majority of the burden of payments and obligations have been shouldered by the City and most all of the direct revenues and benefits generated by the sports facilities have benefited the professional sports teams.

 Further details regarding the accounting of taxes, expenditures, reserves and forecasts of revenues needed will be added and updated as information is confirmed.

Some numbers:

FirstEnergy Stadium, Home of the Cleveland Browns
  • Approximate construction cost: $330 million.
    • Total cost estimates range from $308 - $352 million not include financing costs
      (see Plain Dealer article dated 2.24.2000).
    • Percentage of public funding: 76%.
    • Private Funding: $84.9 million
  • Total Principal Municipal Bonds Issuance: $202 million.
    • Payments made to date $67.9 million.
    • Principal balance owed: $134.1 million.
  • Browns' Stadium Lease:  $7.5 million (fixed $250,000 per year, 30 years (1999-2028)).
  • Total capital repairs obligations, City of Cleveland: $52.5 million (see Schedule 14f below).
  • Browns naming rights revenue: $102 million ($6 million x 17 years).
  • Sin Tax revenue received to-date: $116 million: $87 million for debt service; $29 million for capital repair requirements of which $5 million was advanced in 2012. 
  • Additional Revenue Sources: 8 percent tax on all parking in the city; raised the admission tax on all events by 2 per cent; and added a $2 a car rental fee. (source: Roldo Bartimole, 3.5.2012 & 5.29.2009).
  • Property Taxes: City of Cleveland pays taxes on the land value, currently $19 million value, annual taxes of $646,923.  The stadium building is valued by the County at $276.2 million. The building is exempt from taxes that are valued at $9.3 million.

The following two documents (below the excerpts) represent the lease agreement between the NFL and the City of Cleveland (4-26-96) and the assignment and assumption of that lease to the Browns from the NFL (10-23-98).

Here are two relevant sections - naming rights (for the benefit of the Browns) and maintenance requirements (required from the City).  [click on the images to view in larger format]

Section 12. g. Naming Rights for the New Stadium

Section 14. Capital Repairs  [$52.5 million Total]

Stadium Lease

Ordinance to approve Cleveland Browns Proposed $120 million capital repairs and improvements to FirstEnergy Stadium and authorize a new obligation by the City of Cleveland of $30 million.

Other Legal Documents:

“We are 32 fat-cat Republicans 
who vote socialist [on football]”
- Art Modell
Source: The NFL Machine, By Tom Lowry, Business Week, 1.27.2003 

What portion of sin tax is being collected for what purpose?
What other taxes are being paid by the public and for what purpose?

There are questions or calls for clarification from readers that the sin tax, as we generalize, is not only collected for the Browns, Cavaliers and Indians sport teams and venues but for other benefits as well.  The term "sin tax" has been used predominately to describe the funds used to pay for Gateway and the Browns Stadium.

But, in addition to what is collected to support professional sports, for the sin of smoking the government has collected an additional $100 million or so for arts and culture since passage of that additional tax in 2006.

 The Plain Dealer ran the numbers back in 2010 not just on sin taxes (alcohol and cigarettes) but all of those other pesky taxes and fees - Admission tax; tax on video game machines; bed tax for our hotels, parking taxes (which we thankfully have gotten better at collecting), and vehicle registration fees. See Taxes add up for a night on the town in Cleveland, by Laura Johnston, The Plain Dealer, 4.18.2011.  [click on the images to view the chart in larger format]

References to applicable sections of the Ohio Revised Code -- 

  • 307.673 Cooperative agreement for sales tax levy and bond issuance for construction or renovation of professional sports facilities.
  • 307.696 Agreement for sales tax levy and bond issuance to construct and operate a sports facility.
  • 307.697 Voting on question of levying liquor tax to support facility.
  • 4301.421 Tax levies to finance sports facilities.
  • 5709.081 Exempting public recreational facility used for athletic events.
  • 5743.024 County cigarette sales tax - local excise tax administrative fund.
  • 5743.323 County tax on use, consumption, or storage for consumption of cigarettes.

Relevant Media reports

EXCERPT from -

Major League Losers: The Real Cost Of Sports And Who's Paying For It,
by Mark S. Rosentraub, 1999, page 6:

Watch for updates to this post and feel free to comment and add information that could benefit the discussion of these important and timely issues.

- # -

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Neighborhood Progress Inc. shares 2013-16 Strategic Plan with Cleveland City Council

In today's Community and Economic Development Committee of Cleveland City Council Neighborhood Progress Inc. provided a presentation on their 2013-2016 Strategic Plan titled Toward a New Vision of Community Development.

A copy of their summary document can be viewed below.

For ease of reading, here is a brief summary of their plan:

Mission:  To foster communities of choice and opportunity throughout Cleveland

Vision:  Cleveland's neighborhoods are attractive, vibrant communities where people from all incomes, races and generations thrive, prosper, and choose to live, learn, work, invest and play.

Strategic Framework (see their graphic and details below).

  1. Placemaking
  2. Human Development
  3. Community Development Coporation (CDC) Services & System

Ten Core Values & Guiding Principals:
(My summary descriptions are in parentheses)

  1. The central role of cities, neighborhoods, and place (place-based strategies).
  2. Equity fo all people (community development justice to include economic, educational social, and health resources and development). 
  3. Resident participation and empowerment.
  4. Importance of high capacity CDCs.
  5. Broad-based collaboration and partnerships.
  6. Transparent and informed decision making.
  7. Stable, quality, healthy housing as a platform.
  8. Re-imagining a more sustainable Cleveland.
  9. Educational attainment as an essential element of community building.
  10. Accessibility to quality retail, services, recreation, employment, and multi-modal options.
Four Goals:
  1. An aligned, efficient and results-driven community development network is achieved and serves as a national model.
    • Strategies (summary): right sizing, shared services, greater efficiencies and better results, coordinated shared measurements and evaluations, uniform operating standards, (NPI) expand service delivery to CDCs citywide.
  2. More Clevelanders are living in vibrant neighborhoods.
    • Strategies (summary): strengthen housing markets, support better land utilization, include urban amenities, improve neighborhood attraction and community pride, community supported commercial efforts, better integrated transit options, healthier food options.
  3. Opportunities are increased for more Cleveland residents to have the education, skills, knowledge, and experience to thrive at home, work, and in the community.
    • better align education with community development, foster grassroots community leadership and engage and empower community members, foster wealth-building for low and moderate income residents and employment skill attainment to help access jobs.
  4. Neighborhood Progress has built on and strengthened its leadership, partner, convening, and operational roles.
    • demonstrate and provide leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship among CDCs and between community development and other sectors, forge partnerships and leverage resources to benefit neighborhoods, convene CDCs and partners around issues and innovative programming to benefit neighborhoods, update NPI staff structure and capacity to effectively deliver on all organizational goals. 
Stay tuned for more information as to the discussion with council as well as other resources to add to the general discussion regarding the future of community development in Cleveland.

Councilman Zone and I both discussed the challenges and success our communities have had with implementing a new community development model with the opening of the Stockyard, Clark Fulton & Brooklyn Centre Community Development Office.  Councilman Zone made mention of the lengthy community process and the leap of faith the community made in transitioning to the new model.  I made mention of the critical importance to engage and support very localized engagement (block, street and civic organizations as well as our local business community).

In brief, NPI's new plan introduces to their scope key issues facing Cleveland's neighborhoods such as education, health and workforce development.  This is a clear stated goal as well as underscoring the importance of community involvement and engagement.

Neighborhood Progress Inc.Strategic Plan 2013-2016, Toward a New Vision of Community Development by Brian Cummins

Friday, January 11, 2013

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers releases feasibility study report for the former Harshaw Chemical Company site

Hello from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Buffalo District

The Corps of Engineers has released the feasibility study report for the former Harshaw Chemical Company Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP) Site, which is now available on the Buffalo District website at

The feasibility study and the documents supporting the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) process for the site are located in the Administrative Record File for the former Harshaw Chemical Company Site, which is available for review in the Cuyahoga County Library, Brooklyn Branch, 4480 Ridge Road, Brooklyn, Ohio 44144, and the Cleveland Public Library, 325 Superior Avenue, N.E., Cleveland, Ohio 44114.

This feasibility study is a product of the Corps of Engineers' environmental response conducted under the authority of FUSRAP for which the Corps is the lead federal agency. The feasibility study evaluates potential remedial alternatives that address unacceptable risks to human health and the environment due to the presence of FUSRAP-related contamination. The Corps of Engineers conducts FUSRAP projects in accordance with the governing federal law - CERCLA, 42 U.S.C. § 9601 et. seq., as amended, and the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan, 40 CFR 300.

The former Harshaw Chemical Company, located at 1000 Harvard Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio, was contracted by the Manhattan Engineer District and later the Atomic Energy Commission to support the nation's early atomic weapons program.  From 1944 to 1959, various forms of uranium were processed at the Harshaw Site and sent to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, for further processing. The 55-acre former Harshaw Chemical Company Site was included in FUSRAP in spring 2001 for further characterization of FUSRAP-related contaminants.

Now that the feasibility study is complete, the next step for the project is to develop a proposed plan. The proposed plan will analyze the remedial alternatives discussed in the feasibility study and the Corps of Engineers will present the preferred alternative. The public will be notified of the availability of the proposed plan and associated public comment period. Lastly, a record of decision will be issued selecting the remedy to be implemented. The record of decision will include a written response to comments received on the proposed plan.


Arleen K. Kreusch, APR

Outreach Program Specialist
Special Projects Branch
Environmental Project Management Team
U. S. Army Corps of Engineers
1776 Niagara Street
Buffalo, NY 14207
1-800-833-6390 (Option 4)


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

In regards to the recent resignation/ retirement and the appointment of Ken Johnson to Cleveland City Council


It may be legal but it is not what the majority of the public expect.  It is an act of self-enrichment that should not be allowed.

Public pensions should be intended to provide retirement security, not pre-retirement wealth - double pay.

Because it is legal doesn't make it ethical.  Because Council had the votes to make this happen doesn't make it right.

Public officials should be held by the people, to the highest level of ethical behavior and this does not pass what should be a high standard.

See the link below for some links to the Ohio Revised Code...which made this possible and a good government piece as well.

Some relevant links: