CLEVELAND — Cleveland City Council approved its portion of a $435 million Progressive Field renovation package by a 13-3 margin, ensuring the Cleveland Guardians remain in Cleveland through 2036.
The legislation passed Monday with a number of public commenters voicing support for the package, but a number of members of the audience applauded the no votes.
The county previously approved its portion of the package, which means the public-private partnership cleared its biggest hurdle toward being finalized.
Several council members previously expressed reticence over how the city would use funds generated from the Gateway East Garage to pay for the renovations. All told, the city is expected to contribute more than $8 million that will go toward ballpark improvements
The city will use $2 million generated annually from proceeds from the Gateway East Garage next to Progressive Field. Some council members noted that revenue generated from the garage is not always stable. Some were concerned that lower-than-expected revenue would result in the city using general funds to cover the costs.
The legislation also gives the Guardians the option to purchase the Gateway East Garage from the city for $25 million during the next 24 months.
Progressive Field is 27 years old, and city and county leaders said using public funds to renovate the stadium would prevent any discussion of the team relocating to another city.
The Indians’ lease currently expires in 2023. The updated lease will extend the agreement through 2036, with a pair of options that would allow for it to be extended through 2046.
For the next 15 years, the city and county will spend a combined $17 million annually on stadium renovations. The state of Ohio is set to chip in $2 million annually. The agreement calls on the team to pay for 35% of the improvements and any overages.
At 27 years old, officials said the stadium lacks some of the amenities found in newer stadiums. Progressive Field is the 11th oldest stadium out of 30 in MLB. Several older stadiums, including Wrigley Field in Chicago and Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, have undergone significant renovations in recent years.
Pending city approval, stadium improvements could begin around the start of the 2022 MLB season.
The club said improvements to the stadium would include an expanded team clubhouse and facilities, opening the left field terrace and knocking down some of the concrete walls in the upper deck to provide a view of the field from the concourse.
While officials note that the Indians have not threatened to relocate after 2023, a no vote would have likely raised speculation over the club’s future in the city.