No, the Cavs didn’t get their $70m glass-wall subsidy approved, headline writers are idiots

Media literacy quiz time! Back in April, Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert declared that he wanted $70 million in public money to help him pay for a $140 million renovation of his arena, mostly to build a giant glass wall. Yesterday, ran this headline:

Quicken Loans Arena, home of LeBron and the Cavs, to get $140 million makeover

Does this mean:

  • A) The money was approved
  • B) The money passed an important hurdle, but more approvals are still necessary
  • C) Gilbert agreed to pay for the renovations himself
  • D) Nothing happened at all beyond the Cavs putting out a press release

Yep, that’d be D:

The Cleveland Cavaliers today announced a striking $140 million upgrade to the Q Arena that dramatically alters the facility’s appearance and, the team says, would make the 22-year-old arena competitive by creating more space for dining, bars and public gathering…

Cleveland City Council will hold public hearings and vote on the proposed use of the city’s admission tax to pay back part of the loans.

The rest of the article is mostly just a rehash of Cavs talking points (“without any increase in taxes”! “an up-to-date arena for sports, concerts and other entertainment”! “the proposal looks pretty good compared to other small or medium-sized sports markets”!), plus a bunch of new renderings helpfully labeled “The Q TRANSFORMATION.” Somebody in the Cavs ministry of propaganda deserves a raise today.

14 comments on “No, the Cavs didn’t get their $70m glass-wall subsidy approved, headline writers are idiots

  1. Not sure it’s the best outcome to have it reported as already a done deal when you’re still trying to get funds approved. On the one hand maybe the odds of approval go up if a councilman doesn’t see his phone explode this morning from angry constituents. But they’ll no doubt pick up some backlash from people who read this and filed it away as something that has already happened and then later get upset and say “Hey, they just got $140 million and now they’re talking about giving them $140 million more?!”

      • Well, sure, in general. But in this specific case all the momentum they’ll ever need came when they stormed back to the beat the Warriors. Only debate will be whether to give the Cabs the full $140 million or take half of it and present it directly to LeBron. Maybe the wall can be built to spell out his name and cover both bases at once.

        • Momentum in this situation works a little differently. People are excited at the idea that the arena becomes all shiny and glassy. With this press release, it sounds like its a done deal. Whenever it is the govt balks at the idea of giving the team $70mil “because… we need the money so we can make… more… money?…” The city now looks like the bad guy:

          “Ughh!! This was already a done deal! How could you incompetent politicians screw this up?! Now my favorite basketball team is threatening to leave!”

          Its an almost identical move to the Coyotes showering us with articles about their new arena “getting approved”.

  2. The Plain Dealer / / Advance Ohio has gone from being a joke to being outright sad. The decline from a two-newspaper city to a one-newspaper city to the hollow shell of the PD leaves a big vacuum. And no matter how many turnaround plans the shrinking staff cycle through, it’s really too late at this point.

  3. 85% of the money comes directly or indirectly from the team and people who attend events at the team’s arena (rent, ticket taxes, etc.). Is the slice of the hotel tax that objectionable? It seems like people are just riling themselves up without knowing the details, thus mirroring the behavior of climate change believers.

    • Not really, given the number of people who come to town just to attend games. There will be a small movement opposing it. Having lived in Cleveland for 13 years I could probably guess who those people are, but I don’t want to give them more attention then they deserve.

      As far as the Plain Dealer’s coverage goes, the paper is just awful. The PD has never gotten a story right in the 2 decades I have been reading it.

    • Not sure where you’re getting that 85% figure, Ben. But in any case, kicking back taxes to the team that they would otherwise have to pay isn’t money “coming from the team” — it’s a tax expenditure by the public.

      I guess I’m supposed to take the bait now and get into a fight with you about climate change, too, thus establishing that it’s a debate with two equally valid sides? (SPOILER: It isn’t, and hasn’t been since at least the late ’80s when the science became clear.) Here’s one of my favorite articles on the subject, though:

    • “Climate change”. Really? Shall we next discuss the intimate relationship between the construction of sports stadiums and Obamacare?

    • So can I start to have my taxes only go towards things I use too? I mean I like to play hockey and go to parks and could give two shits about the defense department or seniors or disabled people, can we siphon off my taxes to only pay for snazzy new parka and hockey rinks and say sewer and roads and none for anyone else? I don’t want to pay for police or fire either other people can pay for that!

      Me me me!

  4. That’s 90% of contemporary “journalism” for you. Take corporate/military/Hollywood/sports/government press release. Rearrange words. Think up catchy headline. Serve to general public. Repeat.