Cleveland’s Watergate

A controversy is stirring in Cleveland – somebody has removed the drinking fountains at Quicken Loans Arena and the local paper wants to know why.

The Cleveland Cavaliers, the team that plays in the new arena, removed all the fountains in November, claiming they are a health hazard because they can spread diseases like H1N1 flu. The team said it takes its advice from the NBA and the International Association of Assembly Managers, according to the Plain Dealer.

Visitors can still get a complimentary cup of water at the concession stands. Bottled water is $4.

When the Dealer called around, it couldn’t get the NBA, the IAAM nor the Cuyahoga County Health Department to confirm the claim.

“We have not made any recommendations for teams to turn off water fountains. That is strictly for teams to decide in their own market,” NBA spokesman Brian McIntyre told the paper.

“We’re certainly not recommending that people turn off water fountains,” the health department’s Terry Allan added. A spokesman for IAAM had not heard of any other facility taking this step and the association recommends regular, thorough cleaning of fountains, not removal.

Patrons think they know what’s up.

“The reason is so you have to buy a $4 water,” 17-year-old Matt Woods told the paper.

Quicken Loans Arena released a comprehensive statement Feb. 10 that basically reiterated the argument the water fountains were a public health hazard and it was “simply not the case” that it was a ploy to get patrons to buy bottled water. “The Q” offers 9 oz. complimentary cups of water at more than 100 points of service. It also added the following:

“We will now offer dedicated, manned, complimentary water stations around The Q starting [Feb. 11].”

The statement also says The Q will be installing new water fountains.