Two-time NBA champion LeBron James returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers doesn’t just do a lot for the now up-and-coming franchise. His return promises to do a whole heck of a lot for a city that had been reeling from some hard economic times. According to a report by the Akron Beacon Journal, officials in the greater Cleveland area believe that James’ return will bring in $500 million a year in local revenue.
Landing LeBron James will mean hundreds of millions of dollars in economic benefit to Cleveland and Northeast Ohio, Cuyahoga County officials said.
The return of the star forward to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers will mean $500 million a year in additional ticket sales and spending, County Executive Ed FitzGerald said today. The 2016 Republican National Convention in the city will bring an additional one-time windfall of $200 million, he said.
The idea that one professional sports player can mean so much to a community is beyond belief. James is a brand. He represents a goldmine for those around him. And his mere presence will have wide-ranging ramifications in Cleveland. In addition to the revenue that more expensive tickets and sold-out games will bring, officials are looking at an increase in sales at local stores and restaurants.
When James previously starred for the Cavaliers, the city of Cleveland experienced an economic boom, mainly due to an increase in season ticket purchases and impressive retail numbers.
So when LeBron talked openly about making a difference in the community, he wasn’t just writing idle words on a parchment.
But this is not about the roster or the organization. I feel my calling here goes above basketball. I have a responsibility to lead, in more ways than one, and I take that very seriously. My presence can make a difference in Miami, but I think it can mean more where I’m from.
I want kids in Northeast Ohio, like the hundreds of Akron third-graders I sponsor through my foundation, to realize that there’s no better place to grow up. Maybe some of them will come home after college and start a family or open a business. That would make me smile. Our community, which has struggled so much, needs all the talent it can get.
This goes beyond basketball for both James and the city of Cleveland. And it’s always nice to see a player in a sport we love understand that he’s part of the broader American community.
Photo: Fan Duel