The first time LeBron James left the Cavaliers, it didn’t only affect the team's winning record, but also the success of downtown businesses around Quicken Loans Arena.
According to a 2017 study, there were 190 restaurants within a mile of the Q before James Left in 2010. Four years later, that number fell to 165.
LeRoy Brooks, an economist at John Carroll University, told Time Magazine in 2014 LeBron was worth hundreds of millions to the local economy. Brooks told Time Cleveland hotels, bars and restaurants lost close to $50 million in annual revenue after James bolted for the Miami Heat.
"We will probably see a drop in business,” Nikki Sullivan, Operation Manager at the Corner Alley, said.
She says James' move to the Los Angeles Lakers is having the same effect as the first time. The additional revenue from a long Cavs playoff run is missed.
“When LeBron was here, I would triple my staff,” she said.
Instead, the Corner Alley has cut staff for Cavs games this season because Sullivan says the fans aren't interested in the team, which currently sits near the bottom of the NBA standings.
"Sometimes you talk about the Cavs and fans would go, ‘Do they play tonight? Are they at home? Are they away?’ They aren’t really paying attention now that he is gone,” she said.
Sullivan says it affects far more than just the Corner Alley
“You have to think about the people who park the cars outside, who valet, who work at the hotels, who depended on people to fly in all over the country to come watch LeBron play,” Sullivan said.
Alison Plant says you can feel difference in downtown around The Q now that James is gone. She says the "LeBron Effect" is real
"Now that he is gone, it's just super quiet,” she said. “You can't really tell if it's an event if the Cavs aren’t in town anymore."
Luckily, there are big events coming to Progressive Field and Quicken Loans Arena: In July, the city will host the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, which Destination Cleveland says will generate $65 million for the economy. In 2022, The Q will host the NBA All-Star Game, and that star-studded event is expected to bring in $100 million.