CLEVELAND -- It’s set in stone: The Guardians aren’t leaving Cleveland any time soon. And their home is about to receive some upgrades.
On Thursday, the club announced that the lease agreement and bond financing for Progressive Field improvements that were originally announced in August have been finalized following legislative approvals from the Cleveland City Council and the Cuyahoga County Council.
As announced five months ago, the Guardians struck a deal with the city to extend the Progressive Field lease for at least 15 more years. The deal also includes options for 10 additional years beyond the 2036 season.
The Guardians can start working on the second stage of this process now that the plans have been finalized. The team will begin detailed planning for future renovations and needed capital repairs. The renovations at the ballpark are expected to occur over the next several years, beginning -- at the earliest -- after the conclusion of the 2022 season.
The renovations will include transforming the left-field experience inclusive of the Terrace Club, reimagining the upper-deck concourse, creating a larger, more engaged social space in the seating area behind home plate and clubhouse/front office building renovations.
The first step will be selecting an architect and construction management firms, and finalizing the sequence of proposed projects over the next few months. Then, the club will begin design and construction documents. By the time those steps are completed, the season will likely be wrapping up, allowing construction to officially begin.
“Today heralds a new era of professional baseball in Cleveland, and on behalf of the Dolan family and the Guardians organization, I want to express my deepest appreciation for all of our supporters who helped ensure the continued success of baseball in Cleveland,” Guardians chairman and CEO Paul Dolan said in a statement.
“We feel very fortunate to live in a community that is unified in maintaining momentum in Northeast Ohio and building for a better tomorrow," he added. "We take very seriously the role we can play in maximizing the potential of this great city, and we are confident that this agreement will create a more compelling fan experience and keep this facility modern and relevant for many more years to come.”
Funding for the project will come from the city, county, state and the Guardians, with no new or increased taxes to the residents. The city and county will collectively contribute $17 million annually. The state will pitch in $2 million annually and the team will contribute $10 million annually.
The Guardians are hoping to provide a better game experience for the estimated 1.7 million fans who attend each year, giving them reasons to continue to come to downtown Cleveland, which, as a result, provides substantial cash infusion for local establishments. Progressive Field and Guardians operations create, on average, $323 million in direct annual spending, $21 million in direct annual tax payments and help create and support more than 4,800 jobs, according to the team.
The team will use Marc Taylor Inc. as a project management advisor for the renovations. The two are in the final stages of aligning with community leaders and construction industry experts on improving the community benefits goals and strategizing how to exceed each of those in the areas of economic inclusion, workforce inclusion, pre-apprenticeship program participation, career pathways support, supplier diversity, training and community engagement.