County claims LeBron's an economic engine

CLEVELAND -- LeBron James' homecoming will be a boon to the Northeast Ohio economy as well as a windfall of new tax dollars for local and state government.

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald rolled out some quickly crunched numbers to give a sense of the payoff of LeBron's return.

FitzGerald claims a best-case, overall projection shows LeBron will pump an extra $500 million a year into Northeast Ohio's economy.

That includes projections of Cleveland Cavaliers' sellouts, free-spending fans, booming hotels and restaurants, 500 new jobs and more tax revenue from sales, parking and admissions tax .

The county expects extra ticket tax will mean $3.5 million less of general fund money will be pumped into Gateway /The Q debt service. That money will be available for real infrastructure, programs and services to county communities and residents.

A study shows local and state government could realize $53 million of new revenue/year.

Some challenge those figures as overly optimistic.

"It will mean real money for the local economy," FitzGerald said.

The one-two punch of landing the Republican Convention and LeBron is having a dramatic impact on Cleveland's image that may have a dramatic impact , helping bring more residents, meetings and perhaps even businesses here.

Joy Roller of Global Cleveland says , "Our job just got a lot easier," with LeBron's homecoming.

The group is trying to bring back former Greater Clevelanders and attract immigrants.

LeBron's global appeal and message about Northeast Ohio as his "home" should aid in the group's marketing.

Positively Cleveland is seeing more groups inquiring about Cleveland as a possible meeting site and more possible visitors asking for tourist information about Greater Cleveland, according to spokesperson Jennifer Kramer.


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