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LeBron James’ return could mean $500 million boon to Cleveland

Jul 14, 2014, 3:59 PM EDT

The narrative around LeBron James’ return to Cleveland is that of homecoming. That is what he said in his letter and that has resonated not just in Northeast Ohio but nationally (well, not so much in Miami, but everywhere else).

The other side of this is it is a big financial win for Cleveland.

Not just for the Cavaliers — although the value of that franchise just skyrocketed and the amount of sponsor dollars flowing in will become a river — but also for the City of Cleveland. That according to Bloomberg.

The return of the star forward to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers will have a $500 million a year impact on the local economy, with a boost from additional ticket sales and other spending, County Executive Ed FitzGerald said today….

Based on calculations by the Cuyahoga County Fiscal Office, James’s return will increase the benefit from Cavs games alone to about $268 million. Average attendance increased from about 12,000 before James joined the team to about 20,500 during his final season, the county said. Although attendance has slipped, officials expect sold out games next season with James on the court.

Other spending increases will come at restaurants, convention business and hotels, FitzGerald said. Anticipated benefits include a $34 million increase in annual spending by fans at games to $170 million a year plus 500 additional jobs supported by the Cavaliers, the county said.

As fans we always talk about wanting owners to get name players for our selfish reasons — we want to see our teams win. But there are other motivations for them, the NBA is a business and star players such as LeBron James, Kevin Durant and others bring in far, far more money than their max salaries can pay. Superstars are a real value.

And Cleveland just got back the biggest one of all.

  1. jrs45 - Jul 14, 2014 at 4:04 PM


    • milimpilim - Jul 14, 2014 at 10:03 PM


  2. m4a188 - Jul 14, 2014 at 4:13 PM

    He should take his talents to Detroit.

    • fanofthegame79 - Jul 14, 2014 at 4:28 PM

      With this kind of money influx, you would think the powers that be would pawn him out to a different team each year!

    • worldbfree4me - Jul 14, 2014 at 4:36 PM

      Anything is possible, LeBron only signed up for 2 years.! IMO, he did it because he wasn’t welcomed in his own hometown after going to Miami. Imagine, everytime you went home and everyone, TSA, Cabdrivers, Police heck even the Milk Man giving you the evil eye. That’s essentially what he has faced the last 4 Year’s. If he plays his heart out and looses which Cleveland will certainly do, at least he can say that he tried and leave again if he so chooses.

      • moppop - Jul 14, 2014 at 5:59 PM

        Your MO is a stretch because the more plausible explaination is the impending new TV deal which increases the cap.

  3. zoomy123 - Jul 14, 2014 at 4:32 PM

    When this is all over, someday someone is going to write a book about the economic revolution LBJ caused in the NBA.

  4. 4thquartermagic - Jul 14, 2014 at 4:34 PM

    Also contributing to the economic boom, sales of talc powder are about to go through the roof!

  5. loubearkane - Jul 14, 2014 at 4:55 PM

    Hell of a Boon

  6. lalifer - Jul 14, 2014 at 4:55 PM

    Hopefully it means pay raises to all clevelanders working at Mcdonalds, Burger king etc.

  7. timmons94 - Jul 14, 2014 at 4:56 PM

    He signed 2 yrs cause next CBa will be bigger bucks for him. He isn’t leaving.. Only question now is if u trade wiggins for love. I would in a second. Sure wiggins could be a stud.. Love already is. 4-5 more peak years for lebron. Get love cavs win at least 3 titles with wiggins maybe 1

    • paleihe - Jul 14, 2014 at 5:00 PM

      If I’m Minny, I’d only trade love for Wiggins, Bennett, and a couple of 1st round picks.

  8. timmons94 - Jul 14, 2014 at 5:04 PM

    Not sure they get anything close to that. Only 1 year left on deal.. Teams would be insane to give up that much

    • paleihe - Jul 14, 2014 at 7:56 PM

      Obviously they’d need to know he’d sign an extension.

      If I’m Minny GM, I wouldn’t take Bennett, Waiters and first round picks. That’d seem like a waste.

  9. smackingfools - Jul 14, 2014 at 5:19 PM

    Why does he throw up the 666, devil horns, and illuminati triangle after the national anthem?

    • moppop - Jul 14, 2014 at 6:09 PM

      Your tinfoil hat is a bit loose. You might want to fix that before the lizardmen get in there.

  10. antistratfordian - Jul 14, 2014 at 5:45 PM

    Gilbert better give that man every dime he has in 2016.

    The hilarious thing is that there was so handwringing about Bosh making as much as LeBron, about LeBron asking for the max, and Bosh-Wade getting a steep pay cut… and Chris Bosh STILL makes more than LeBron!

    Gotta love it.

  11. seasickcecil - Jul 14, 2014 at 6:07 PM

  12. jzone954 - Jul 14, 2014 at 6:15 PM

    The 2 year deal is a bigtime gamble as well for Lebron if say he gets injured.

    • bkbell3 - Jul 15, 2014 at 2:02 AM

      lbj makes over 50mil per with endorsements and i believe he is worth about 350mil right now so i think he will be ok if he gets hurt. Now if this was latrell spreewell I’d be worried if he could feed his

  13. jrs45 - Jul 14, 2014 at 7:43 PM


    About spot on with everything you said. I think even with all of that talent he’ll only win one. Cleveland will go absolutely crazy when they do.

  14. mtheparrothead - Jul 14, 2014 at 7:44 PM

    Awesome! Which brings Cleveland’s total economic output to 501 million. Movin on up..

  15. seasickcecil - Jul 14, 2014 at 8:05 PM

    Love wants to play with Lebron. He has indicated he would sign. And C-Town is on a roll. Downtown development has been so impressive they just snagged the 2016 Republican National Convention.

  16. seasickcecil - Jul 14, 2014 at 8:13 PM

    Besides Flip better be careful. If Love is still with the Wolves when the season starts he could just start telling teams that he plans to be a free agent. Then Flip ain’t gonna get squat.

  17. seasickcecil - Jul 14, 2014 at 8:25 PM

    Three places Love has said he would sign we’re Boston, Cleveland and Golden State. The Warriors refuse to part with Klay Thompson and Cavs refuse to part with Wiggins. If I’m Flip I got the Celtics on speed dial.

  18. progress2011 - Jul 14, 2014 at 9:11 PM

    Follow the MONEY!

    The primary “Cash Flow” for the downtown district, the first 7 yrs LBJ was in Cleveland is why the owner, business men and fans were so delirious with anger, when LBJ made a business decision to play with the Heat.

    It had absolutely NOTHING to do with “how he delivered the Decision”.

    Cleveland is Flat-Broke! A large amount of the revenue to corporations and small business owners is generated by one man…..King James!

    Dude should get keys to the city, governor when he retires and anything else he thinks he wants!

  19. fraudguy - Jul 14, 2014 at 10:20 PM

    Well, the issue isn’t that he is generating income, it’s where that income flowed from to go to Cleveland. Basically, people will be spending more in and around the arena there, and more on tickets and the like, which will pull money from outlying areas. That $500 million isn’t generated ex nihilo, it’s coming from someone else’s pockets, so LeBron is really costing other locations $500 million a year.

  20. seasickcecil - Jul 15, 2014 at 12:31 AM

    The RNC committee awarded the city the convention because they loved it. New Medical Mart/Convention Center. Downtown Casino. A Great Lake for fishing and boating. East Bank phase 2 of the River will be done featuring a boardwalk Hotel restaurants bar condos. The West Bank too. The second largest theatre district out side of NY. I could go on but it wouldn’t matter because most of these idiots listen to too many Conan Obrien jokes.

  21. lawson1974 - Jul 15, 2014 at 12:20 PM

    These numbers always turn out to be so inflated.
    The problem is that people dont just magically get more discretionary income.
    The neighborhood around the stadium will see a huge boon, but most of that money will just be transferred from being spent in other neighborhoods.

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