Water fountains removed from Cleveland arena

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Update 2/10 7:58 pm The water will be flowing again soon. Starting tomorrow night there will be water stations in Quicken Loans Arena — manned tables where water will be handed out free of charge — and the fountains will be back and operational soon. Aside any public pressure, there was the fact that building codes require one fountain for every 1,000 guests, so the arena was in violation.

2/8 7:51 pm The Associated Press reports that the water fountains have been removed from Cleveland’s Quicken Loans arena. The reason given for removing the fountains was to prevent the spread of bacteria and communicable diseases. Skeptics regard this as a move to encourage fans to buy bottled water, although they will be able to get free 9-ounce water cups at concession stands.

Given that Cavs owner Dan Gilbert has some of the deepest pockets in the league and has made lots of extravagant purchases for the team and its fans, I find it unlikely that he would pinch pennies in this manner.

The move is curious, though. The city department of health did not endorse the move by the Cavs organization, with a representative saying “I haven’t been able to find anything in the whole H1N1 world that says water fountains are a concern.”

As of right now, it is unclear what kind of an impact the removal of the water fountains will have on LeBron James’ free agency decision in 2010.