Cavs have turned Cleveland into one big block party
As you may have heard, our NBA team is pretty good this season, making a Cavs game one of the hottest commodities Cleveland has going right now.
- Not wanting to feel left out, Sam and Troy attended a recent game to see what all the fuss is about.
What's happening: The Cavs will head into the NBA All-Star break this month with their highest attendance figures since LeBron James left in 2018.
Why it matters: As the Cavs go, so goes the downtown economy during the winter, according to David Gilbert, president and CEO of Destination Cleveland.
- "Having a really good team means more attendees, with a higher percentage of them from out of town," Gilbert tells Axios. "That's critical for downtown businesses that continue to struggle because offices have not filled back up post-COVID."
State of play: It's not just what's happening on the court.
- In 2019, Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse completed a $185 million transformation that included more VIP areas and concessions from some of Northeast Ohio's top chefs and brewers.
- Last month, the arena opened a Caesars Sportsbook covering more than 10,000 square feet and featuring two full bars.
💭 Troy's thought bubble: There's a lot to take in, from the gourmet food to a surprising number of people there just to bet on games.
- The concession areas are divided up into "neighborhoods" that make you feel like you're touring Cleveland's vibrant nightlife areas.
💭 Sam's thought bubble: From jerseys and athleisure wear to business suits and formal attire, there's a real diversity of apparel on the concourse that echoes the rich diversity of the fanbase.
The bottom line: Barring a disastrous collapse, the Cavs will make the playoffs in April, meaning Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse will be an epicenter for sports, betting and concerts.
Yes, but: Don't forget about what's happening off the court.
Catch up quick: In late 2016, the Cavaliers and local public officials announced what became known colloquially as "The Q Deal" — a lease extension keeping the Cavs in Cleveland through 2034 that involved millions of public dollars for arena upgrades.
- Boosters sold the deal as a 50-50 split between team owner Dan Gilbert and the public; each party would pay $70 million.
- Yes, but: Cuyahoga County bonded out the total initial value of the project ($140 million) and will pay $160 million or more to service the debt (principal plus interest) for years to come, largely from admission taxes.
Of note: The public contributions were promptly surpassed last year by the Progressive Field deal, which includes $285 million in public subsidies and impinges on the city and county general funds more directly than the Q Deal did.
- Both could look downright thrifty compared with a new Browns stadium project, if owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam get their way.
The intrigue: Most economists agree there is no economic benefit to public subsidies for sports teams.
The bottom line: Cleveland is one of the two poorest big cities in the country, and the gulf between the haves and have-nots continues to widen, so it's important to scrutinize the costs and benefits of these deals
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