Quicken Loans Arena expansion critic to speak
Rev. John Rinehart, an activist in the group that protested the expansion of Quickens Loans Arena in downtown Cleveland, will be a guest speaker at the Oct. 16 meeting of the Bay Democratic Club.
Greater Cleveland Congregations (GCC) has been widely credited with influencing the Cavaliers, Cleveland city leaders and county officials to make neighborhood improvements at the same time The Q is expanded and modernized.
GCC was formed in 2011 after more than 2,000 people met to discuss improvements in education, criminal justice reform and health care. Today, members represent 39 houses of worship among Christian, Jewish and Muslim organizations.
Several months ago, it was announced that The Q would get a $140 million upgrade with a new glass exterior and more public space. The Cavs were to pay for half of the costs with public funds financing the rest. And, the basketball team’s lease would be extended.
“We didn’t like the deal,” said Rinehart, who is minister of justice at Dover Congregational Church in Westlake. “We didn’t see any benefit to the broader community. What’s in it for the rest of the city?”
With about 700 volunteers, GCC launched a petition drive to force Cleveland to put the issue on the ballot. Later, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the city had to accept the petitions from GCC, opening the door to a public vote.
The Cavaliers abruptly announced the deal was off because construction would be delayed and costs would rise.
After talks among the team, the city and the county, GCC petitions were dropped and the Cavs announced the expansion would start.
“We were able to get Dan Gilbert to fund new basketball courts at Cleveland high schools and recreation centers,” said Rinehart.
And, the county has agreed to consider a plan to build two mental health centers in Cleveland neighborhoods, he said.
Rinehart, a retired municipal administrator in Pennsylvania, said GCC has also worked to get out the vote in recent Cleveland school bond issues and on statewide efforts to expand Medicaid. Rinehart, a Bay resident, is also a former president of Bay Dems.
The Bay Democratic Club will meet Monday, Oct. 16, at 7 p.m. in the community room at the Police Station, 28000 Wolf Road. The public is invited.
Comunications committee chair, Bay Dems