Quicken Loans Arena (Gund Arena), Cleveland, Ohio
This arena, located in the heart of downtown Cleveland in the Historic Gateway Neighborhood, opened in October of 1994 for a sold-out concert by Billy Joel.
Designed by the Minneapolis architectural firm of Ellerbe Becket (now part of AECOM), the arena was originally named Gund Arena, for Gordon Gund, a former owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team. In conjunction with the new Cleveland Indians baseball park, Jacobs Field (now Progressive Field), the arena was part of the Gateway revitalization project, built in the area of the city’s former central produce market and distribution terminals. Like many of its contemporaries in other cities, the arena seats over 20,000 fans for basketball games, all within very good sightlines of the court, and all bombarded by bold graphics, video, music, and plentiful food and drink choices.
For the two decades prior to this arena’s opening, Clevelanders had no in-town arena facility. The downtown’s old, tiny and decrepit venue, Cleveland Arena, which had served the citizens for almost four decades, had closed in 1974.
In the 1970s, Nick Mileti, then owner of the town’s professional hockey franchise, pushed for the Richfield Coliseum, a concrete behemoth built at roughly the mid-point between Cleveland and Akron. The Coliseum suffered attendance problems due to its location, but offered the regions largest venue for concerts, hockey and basketball games. The Cleveland Cavaliers NBA expansion franchise began at the Coliseum. The facility was vacated once the newer downtown arena was completed, and demolished five years later. Its former site is now a favored birder’s park.
Meanwhile, Gund Arena served as the home court of a resurgent Cavaliers franchise, home ice of the Lake Erie Monsters hockey team, and home field of the Cleveland Gladiators arena football team. It also hosted an annual slate of circuses, wrestling, ice skating, shows, concerts, tournaments and other special events.
By 2005, Dan Gilbert, owner of Quicken Loans and majority Cavaliers owner, had acquired the team and facility, renaming it the Quicken Loans Arena (or ‘the Q’). He had also invested heavily in an updating and renovation of the facility to improve both fan experience and revenue. With the arrival of LeBron James (and, most recently, Shaquille O’Neal), the Cleveland Cavaliers have firmly placed the Q in the sights of roundball fans everywhere.
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