LeBron’s Impact on the Land
Late on Sunday night, LeBron James delivered on his promise, ending the 52 year championship drought in major professional sports in Cleveland. The Cavaliers were the only team in NBA history to come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a title. History was made last Sunday, and for me personally, I never thought I would see the day. I have been a Cleveland fan my entire life, so I have heard all of the jokes. Everybody outside of Northeastern Ohio can say whatever they want about Cleveland now because they can’t take away what was just earned.
LeBron James returning to Cleveland had a huge impact on the city and winning the NBA Finals will further its development even more. When LeBron came home, some economists estimated that he would help generate up to $500 million in additional revenues for the city. Others contested that the number was a little bit too hopeful, but to see the growth of Cleveland over the past two years has been remarkable.
I attended the parade last Wednesday and it was one of the greatest experiences I have ever had. 1.3 million fans flooded the streets of Cleveland to show their appreciation to the team that showed us that winning is possible again. The excitement and happiness displayed was unbelievable, so was the amount of money being spent. Local restaurants and bars were packed wall to wall. The lines to buy championship merchandise were ridiculous. If every attendee spent $1 at the parade, the city would generate almost $1.5 million dollars. I think it is pretty safe to say that that number was easily surpassed.
LeBron’s presence in Cleveland also has had an impact on young professionals who are moving into and around the city revitalizing places like the Flats, which hasn’t been happening since the Browns were winning in the 80’s. Other areas in transition are Ohio City and Tremont where they are turning old abandoned buildings into housing. Cleveland is gaining a new identity and winning a title does not seem like it’s a coincidence.
This championship may open up doors for other Cleveland teams as well. The Indians have been playing tremendous baseball as of late, and some feel they have a legitimate chance to win the World Series. Let’s hope that the winning continues in the city because winning brings interest and interest brings money. Success had by professional sports franchises can rejuvenate and transform places in some situations. I believe Cleveland will be one of those instances. Thank you LeBron James for bringing hope and vindication to a city that deserves it more than any other!
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