Gateway Sports and Entertainment Complex
The Gateway Sports and Entertainment Complex is a multipurpose campus located in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. It comprises two sports facilities, a transitional space known as Gateway Plaza, and two parking garages. The complex is primarily situated between East 9th Street to the east, Huron Road to the north (although Gateway North parking garage is across Huron), Ontario Street to the west, and Carnegie Avenue to the south. The sports venues are Progressive Field, which is the home of Major League Baseball's Cleveland Indians, and Quicken Loans Arena, home of the Cleveland Cavaliers of the National Basketball Association. The complex is owned by the city and is managed by the Gateway Economic Development Corporation of Greater Cleveland. The organization's board members are appointed by county and city leaders.
Progressive Field was completed first, opening on April 4, 1994, as Jacobs Field. It cost approximately $175 million to build, of which $91 million, or 52%, came from Indians owner Richard Jacobs. The remaining $84 million, or 48%, was from a 15-year sin tax. It was designed by HOK Sport (now known as Populous), a division of Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum. HOK designed it as a retro-modern ballpark, similar to their just-completed Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, with asymmetrical fences of varying heights, a smaller upper deck, and stepped tiers. The ballpark was situated in a way that would showcase Cleveland's downtown skyline.
Quicken Loans Arena, originally named Gund Arena, has dimensions of 480 feet (150 m) long by 440 feet (130 m) wide by 140 feet (43 m) high (750,000 square feet (70,000 m2)). It was designed by Ellerbe Becket Sports & Venue and Robert P. Madison International Inc., a local architectural firm. Similar to the ballpark's downtown views, the arena has a 108-foot (33 m) by 48-foot (15 m) bay window that faces southeast and shows off the city's industrial Flats. The construction and engineering were completed by an integrated team from Ellerbe Becket. The underground service area can accommodate 26 tour buses. It was built for approximately $152 million and opened on October 17, 1994.
Gateway Plaza is multifunctional open space situated between Quicken Loans Arena to the north, Ontario Street to the west, Gateway East parking garage to the west, and Progressive Field to the south. However, it is technically bordered by Bolivar Road, Ontario Street, East 6th Street, and Eagle Avenue. It is primarily concrete roadway, but it does features decorative industrial art pieces and limited green space. On game days, it frequently hosts on-location radio and television broadcasts, along with satellite trucks for TV broadcast uplinks, as well as other game-related events. For instance, some events for the 1997 MLB All-Star Game Fan Fest were held in Gateway Plaza.
There are two parking garages, which can hold 3,300 cars. The Gateway North garage is an rectangular-shaped structure, with its main entrance on Ontario Street and another two on High Street. A third floor covered walkway above Huron Road connects on its south east corner to The Q. The City of Cleveland plans to convert a portion of the garage into a downtown bike station. The Gateway East garage is an L-shaped structure, with three covered walkways. A third floor covered walkway above East 6th Street connects on its western side to The Q, while two more connect to ballpark to its south above Eagle Ave. Its main entrance is on Huron Road, with a season-ticket holders entrance at East 6th and Bolivar and another at East 7th and Bolivar. Both garages are currently managed by Standard Parking.
Greater Cleveland Dome Stadium Corporation
The Gateway complex had its genesis in the early 1980s. City fathers had longed to bring the Cavaliers back to downtown Cleveland since the team left for the Richfield Coliseum in 1974. Moreover, the Browns and Indians were housed in Cleveland Municipal Stadium, which was costing the city money in a time when it could ill-afford it. A major-league caliber sporting facility hadn't been built in Cleveland itself since the now-demolished Cleveland Arena opened in 1937.
A multipurpose dome would be the new home to the Browns and Indians, and would attract the Cavs back to Cleveland, according to the original proposal by County Commissioner Vincent Campanella. The concept was modeled after the Pontiac Silverdome. Browns owner Art Modell backed the domed stadium idea, as did Ohio Governor Dick Celeste, however, he did not like funding the project with property taxes. On May 8, 1984, a ballot initiative for the $150 million dome stadium went down in defeat by a 2 to 1 margin. In 1985, another dome called Hexatron, a six-sided structure with a retractable roof designed by local architect Robert Corna, was proposed but never left the drafting table. The proposed funding for Hexatron would be a sin tax on alcohol and cigarettes in Cuyahoga County, an idea floated by a young member of the Ohio House of Representatives named Jeff Jacobs, the son of the future Indians owner Richard Jacobs.
Still, Cleveland Mayor George Voinovich and Governor Celeste pushed forward to create the Greater Cleveland Dome Stadium Corporation, borrowing $22 million from banks and the state of Ohio. Cleveland Tomorrow, a group of top executives from Cleveland's biggest firms, launched a development fund to further the project, and acquisition of property began in December 1985. By 1989, the site of the former Central Market, a fruit and vegetable market that dated back to 1856, and other adjacent buildings were razed and made into parking lots. However, there were funding gaps and big disagreements as to who would pay to build the project, along with a change in leadership.
Ballot Issue 2
In 1990, new leadership took the baton from the dome stadium group. The team was a partnership of Cleveland Tomorrow, led by lawyer Tom Chema, and a group of elected officials. The group included newly elected Mayor Michael R. White, newly elevated Cleveland City Council President Jay Westbrook, along with Cuyahoga County Commissioners Tim Hagan, Virgil Brown, Mary Boyle, and Jim Petro. The group hastily coordinated a plan to finance the complex by asking county voters for a 15-year sin tax, styled after the Hexatron plan. The tax, which amounted to 1.9 cents on a can of beer, 1.5 cents per ounce of liquor, and 4.5 cents on a pack of cigarettes, would be a way get suburban county voters to pay for the project. But it required a countywide vote, which added it to the May primary election ballot as "Issue 2" in the hopes that it would pass with the normally light turnout.
There was heavy advertising both for and against Issue 2. There was also a Major League Baseball lockout in February 1990 over player salaries. It directly threatened weaker teams, such as the Indians, that did not have the cushion of additional revenues from luxury boxes and other stadium amenities. Just days before the vote, baseball commissioner Fay Vincent attended a city council finance committee meeting and stated, "should the vote [on Issue 2] be a negative one, we may find ourselves confronting a subject we want to avoid."
These factors helped drive a large turnout, as 49.6 percent of registered voters cast ballots. On May 8, 1990, Issue 2 passed by a slim 51% margin (198,390 to 185,209). A month later, Mayor White and Commissioner Hagan created Gateway Economic Development Corporation, a non-profit organization, and installed Chema as its executive director.
Both venues were completed in 1994. Todd Greathouse is the current executive director of the Gateway Economic Development Corporation.
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