CLEVELAND – It’s hard to miss the new 10-story tall banner downtown where LeBron James’ iconic image used to be. Even though the King is no longer ruling Cleveland’s court across the street, businesses just a few blocks away aren’t worried.
With barely an open chair inside Barrio’s downtown location, the staff said it’s a light crowd for a Friday lunch.
“Honestly, it wasn’t on our radar too much,” said Barrio’s Director of Operations Jake Hawley about James leaving for L.A.
Barrio wasn’t around the first time James left, but Hawley said it might not have been that way back then.
“Eight years ago, downtown Cleveland wasn’t anywhere near as busy and didn’t have the economic development it has today,” said Hawley.
Case Western Reserve University Economics Professor Mark Votruba said the downtown businesses have built up solid customer bases and don’t need to rely on the Cavs, or LeBron, to bring people in.
But fans heading to the arena might see a big change in the experience.
“Last year, when the Cavaliers were selling out every game, they weren’t worried about reducing concession prices to put more people in the seats,” said Votruba. “They already had the gym filled.”
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Article Courtesy of WEWS News 5 Cleveland
First Picture Courtesy of The Washington Post and Getty Images
Second Picture Courtesy of Matty Willz
Video Courtesy of YouTube and WEWS News 5 Cleveland