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Cleveland City Council gives green light to Progressive Field deal

Cleveland City Council has voted to approve a $435m (£326.2m/€383.1m) deal to redevelop Progressive Field and ensure the city’s Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise remains until at least 2036.

Council voted 13-3 in favour of a deal that was first announced in August. Officials from the City of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, the State of Ohio and the then Cleveland Indians agreed a collaboration for the future preservation and enhancement of Progressive Field.

With appropriate legislative approval in the coming months, the project aimed to improve and extend the life of the publicly owned ballpark, which having opened in 1994 is the 11th oldest stadium in MLB.

The franchise, which has now rebranded to the Cleveland Guardians, originally signed a 20-year lease, which was later extended by 10 years through 2023. The Guardians’ status as a small-market club with an expiring lease deal had led to speculation that it could be open for relocation.

However, the deal sealed yesterday (Monday) will extend the lease of the team for at least 15 years to 2036, plus the potential for 10 additional years to 2046. Funding for the project will be supported by all four entities (State, City, County, Guardians) with no new or increased taxes for residents.

After the vote, the Guardians said: “We are very appreciative of the partnership from the entire public sector (City, County, State) throughout the process to achieve a finalised, long-term agreement.

“The approval of this agreement, spanning at least 15 years, will allow us to create a more compelling fan experience at Progressive Field, provide funding for capital repairs to preserve this public asset, and address needed upgrades to significantly enhance our team’s ability to perform on the field in our quest to win a World Series.”

The Cleveland.com website said the City’s contribution will be around $8m per year, with Cuyahoga County contributing around $9m, the State of Ohio $2m and the team $4.5m. Along with routine capital repairs, the full project will cover wide-ranging upgrades to the ballpark, including a new entryway into Gateway Plaza, an overhaul of the team’s corporate offices, and improvements to the areas used by players.

It will also include a revamp of many fan areas, including the upper deck and the Terrace Club. Some of the work is expected to commence next year, with all renovations expected to be complete by Opening Day 2025.

Image: Cards84664/CC BY-SA 4.0/Edited for size