Recently, the KeyBank Foundation donated $10 million to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in part so that residents of the city of Cleveland can visit for free for at least the next ten years. (And yes, only people who live in Cleveland–not Medina or Pepper Pike or North Royalton–get free admission).
I will almost never complain about something that benefits the residents of Cleveland proper. Not that I have anything against suburbanites, but the city is the engine by which the region moves. Sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. And, according to cleveland.com, only 20,000-25,000 of the museum’s visitors last year resided in the city, which constitutes less than 5% of the total attendance. Certainly the up-to $26 admission fee can be prohibitive for some who live in Cleveland, so hopefully this will give those residents an opportunity to see their city’s best-known attraction.
Certainly the city of Cleveland could use $10 million for other things. And those who are criticizing this gesture certainly have a valid point. Increased rail stops and lines for RTA would be one place to start. We need more police within the city, especially if those suburbanites are expected to spend money in the city as we’d like them to. $10 million would certainly go a long way toward ensuring better health care for the city’s residents as well. The list of ways Cleveland could spend this money more productively is as long as the list of Rock Hall inductees.
However, if we accept that this money from the KeyBank foundation was designated solely for cultural reasons, then we should take what we can get and enjoy it. Key Bank should absolutely be congratulated and thanked for their generosity. Like the Rock Hall itself, they’re a pillar of the Cleveland community and their input and largesse will both be essential if Cleveland is to continue moving forward economically and culturally. In the meantime, let’s go learn more about the history of rock’n’roll and one of our city’s top draws.