Video Vault: WEWS coverage of the Sin Tax campaign and vote in 1990

CLEVELAND - “I know the Indians want their own intimate stadium setup and I hope they get it,” said former Browns owner Art Modell.

Modell was interviewed a week before the May, 1990 Issue 2 vote.

“They’re an important asset to the city of Cleveland, northeastern Ohio and I hope the thing passes next week.”

Having Art Modell on your side in 1990 was considered to be a good thing.

The highly contentious debate surrounding the “sin tax” of 1990 had some of the same arguments as the 2014 edition: Let the owners pay.

The battle lines were drawn with political heavyweights on both sides — Cleveland Mayor Mike White and Cuyahoga County Commissioner Tim Hagan for it, while Cleveland School Board President Stanley Tolliver and Congressman Lou Stokes were against it.

A debate with three of those four principals took place on the Morning Exchange. The back and forth over subsidizing wealthy owners punctuated with Tim Hagan’s “I wish Mother Teresa owned the Cleveland Indians, she doesn’t.”

Lou Maglio’s story on the debate shows the models of the proposed facilities.

A story from WEWS reporter Jim McElroy touched on the Gund brothers and what they would do with the Coliseum if the vote passed.

In 1990, a loss at the ballot seemed to mean the end of the Cleveland Indians.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent, appearing before city council, wasn’t worried about baseball.

“… there’ll either be a franchise here or there won’t, but this is not a survival issue for baseball, it seems to me it’s a much bigger and a more important issue for your community,” Vincent said in 1990.

Alan DePetro does the Vincent story and also the proposed development around a new ballpark and arena.

The crystal ball was a bit cloudy on those high rise buildings, but also missed on downtown housing, hotels and restaurants.

At 7:30 into our video, an aerial view of the Gateway site when it was not much more than a sea of parking spaces.

WEWS reporter Rebecca Shaw covers an emotional and intense Election Day.

“It has been the most intensive, most pressurized issue that I have been involved in, in the 22 years that I have served in the United States Congress,” said Lou Stokes. “And when the final tally comes in tonight, the people in this county will have spoken, loud and clear on behalf of the people and against the big money interests.”

As we know, the vote was close, but it did pass.

Tim Hagan and Mike White were shown wearing hats and doing their version of the Blues Brothers.

But not everyone in the region was happy. The powers that be in Summit County were venting their displeasure.

“Every graveyard in Cuyahoga County voted yesterday,” said one county official. Mayors in Akron and Richfield piled on.

Reported David Christopher reported from inside the Coliseum wondering if events would have to choose between the two venues.

There was talk of having a public entity like the University of Akron taking control of it. Other ideas floated were a shopping mall and a prison.

The Coliseum ultimately was torn down with the land sold to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. 

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