Cleveland Cavalier fans may have been disappointed the Cavs did not defeat the Miami Heat Thursday night but downtown businesses surely benefited from LeBron James’ return. The unprecedented media hype for James’ return to the city, team and arena he once called home attracted major sports outlets and briefly boasted the city’s economy.
Downtown game day patronage unfortunately waned after James decided to take his talents to South Beach. So it should come as no surprise hotels such as the Cleveland Renaissance and Marriott Hotel in the Key Center bustled with activity as did eateries surrounding Quicken Loans Arena for his unwelcome return. The revenue incline surely began late Tuesday as out of town fans, sports reporters and national media outlets such as TNT began arriving for the sold-out game. By Thursday night restaurants such as Fat Fish Blue were filled with hungry, thirsty and anxious patrons.
Sports bars like The Barley House on West 6th Street got into the action early by hosting a pre-game James rally on Wednesday night. Incensed fans were able to throw darts at a James faced dart board, tell LeBron James jokes and enjoy a pig roast in his honor.
Spending against James
Street venders joined the fanfare selling anti-LeBron James signs, buttons and t-shirts. The demand for shirt like the “The Lying King” by GV Art and Design are said to have attracted online retailer shoppers from as far away as Australia. The Great Lakes Brewing also released a special batch of Quitness Beer on tap Thursday morning.