Ohio Supreme Court rules Cleveland must accept referendum petitions on upgrades at The Q

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio Supreme Court ordered Cleveland City Council Clerk Pat Britt to accept referendum petitions submitted by a coalition that opposes Cleveland’s use of tax dollars on upgrades at Quicken Loans Arena.The 4-3 ruling on Thursday leaves the project in limbo, at least in the short term. Cuyahoga County delayed selling bonds to finance the project while Cleveland’s role was being contested. The Cavaliers had hoped to begin work right after the playoffs ended in June.The decision also likely scuttles Cleveland’s hopes of hosting the NBA All-Star Game in either 2020 or 2021. The NBA warned Cleveland last week that if work on the upgrades did not start by Sept. 15, the city’s bid would not be considered.What’s the project?The Cavaliers want to make $140 million to modernize the Q with a glass front, public gathering spaces and dining areas that will let fans watch the game while they eat. The Q is one of the oldest NBA arenas without a major update.Representatives for the team, which manages the arena, say they have been “punching above their weight” in terms of attracting top entertainment acts to the arena, but fear that without a renovation, Cleveland will have trouble remaining competitive.The Cavaliers, Cuyahoga County, the city of Cleveland and Destination Cleveland agreed to split the cost. The county would borrow the $140 million. The Cavaliers would take on half. Cleveland’s share would come from admission taxes collected over 11 years on tickets sold for events at The Q, beginning in 2024.What prompted the court fight?A coalition led by Greater Cleveland Congregations, an advocacy group made up of urban and suburban religious institutions, argued that Cleveland’s struggling neighborhoods would not benefit from the deal.