In 2015, a local Cuyahoga County sin tax will expire. The Cleveland Browns have already begun lobbying for an extension and are hoping that they can convince the city's two other major professional sports teams - the Cleveland Indians and the Cleveland Cavaliers - to join their quest for continuing cash.
The Browns are banking on the support of the Indians and Cavs, who have yet to join their efforts, because without them it will be quite a challenge to get the sin tax renewed. One of the biggest challenges that they will face will be in changing the minds of state officials, as well as overcoming the tobacco and alcoholic beverage lobbies who were successfully able to insert language into a budget bill in 2008 that bans counties from levying local sin taxes.]
If the Browns could convince the state Legislature to give them an exemption from the ban, then Cuyahoga County voters would likely then be asked to approve the tax.
Earlier in February, the Browns went to Cleveland City Council to request a $5 million loan from the city to make repairs on Cleveland Browns Stadium. This loan would be repaid later this year, as well as in 2013 with future sin tax proceeds. City Council approved the repair plan and the loan.
The sin tax was originally approved by Cuyahoga County voters in 1990 for a term of 15-years to pay for the construction of Progressive Field (formerly Jacobs Field) and Quicken Loans Arena (formerly Gund Arena) through what was known as the Gateway project. Then, in 1995, voters approved extending the tax for another 10 years to help build Cleveland Browns Stadium. The sin ax put a tax on cigarettes of 4.5 cents per back, 16 cents per gallon of beer, 32 cents per gallon on wine and mixed beverages, and other spirits at $3 per gallon.
By the end of 2015, bonds issued by the city of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County to pay for their shares of the construction of all three projects will have been repaid. Each of the three professional sports teams has 30-year leases that put the burden of capital repairs on the city and county governments.