Cleveland Indians rumors: Tribe closing in on new owner, new lease

Cleveland Indians (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Cleveland Indians (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

In Cleveland Indians rumors, the Tribe is reportedly closing in on a new minority owner, in an addition to extension of Progressive Field’s lease.

Stanley Middleman, 67, is the name that’s emerged, according to The Athletic. He’s the founder and CEO of New Jersey-based Freedom Mortgage, which was described as “one of the nation’s largest FHA and VA lenders.”

Sources reportedly told The Athletic (subscription required) that Middleman isn’t the only interested investor, but he’s the name that was presented to writers Zack Meisel, Jason Lloyd and Bill Shea.

The trio added that Dolans contention, that the family has no plans to sell to the team.

Paul Dolan has reportedly been looking for another minority owner, ever since John Sherman departed to the Tribe in 2019 to purchase his hometown Kansas City Royals. At the time, he owned a 30 percent stake and there was a plan for him to eventually take over, although no timetable was ever put forth, at least publicly, by the Dolans.

The pandemic was reportedly tough on on the already cash concerned Indians, and it’s been reported that it could take “years” for the organization to get out of the red.

Whomever becomes minority owner, that person will be counted on to provide a financial boost to the Tribe’s dreadful payroll.

At around $50 million, Cleveland has the second-lowest payroll in MLB. The Athletic article noted how Sherman’s ownership provided the juice that helped Cleveland’s salaries skyrocket to never-before-seen sums from 2016-2019. Nobody was confusing them with the Yankees, but Edwin Encarnacion is the only player the Tribe’s ever shelled out $20 million per season for.

Just imagine what a little payroll help could do for this club. They’re 3.0 games over .500 at the All-Star break with their top three-starting pitchers spending a lot of time on the IL during the first half.

On the other end of the spectrum, throwing cash at the problem doesn’t necessarily equate success. Ask the Yankees, or the Angels. Or, ask the Mets how they feel about the Francisco Lindor extension right now.

The Indians front office is second to none, and to be able to give them, along with future HOF manager Terry Francona, a little bump in cash could be what finally lifts the Tribe to the top.

Cleveland Indians lease extension nearing

There’s also some good news regarding the team’s lease, which expires at the end of the 2023 campaign. An agreement is “nearing,” according to The Athletic.

Unbelievably, Jacobs–I mean, Progressive Field, will be turning 30 on Opening Day of the 2024 season. Ideally, the team will sign a lease for 20-25 years, signaling the Indians–or whatever they’ll be called next–will be playing  on the corner of Carnegie and Ontario and the fan base can quit worrying about a move to Nashville.

Last year, I wrote Gateway receives between $13-$14 million per year from Cuyhoga County’s six tax (a tax on beer and cigarettes) to maintain the facilities.

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The Tribe reportedly receives $2 million per year to maintain infrastrucrual needs, such as the roof, heating, cooling, etc.