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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.

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