CLEVELAND — In case you didn’t know, we are a little over 5 weeks away from NBA All-Star Weekend. This year, the festivities are being held in downtown Cleveland.
On Thursday, organizers held a webinar for local businesses to discuss the impact the events will have, and what it all means for Cleveland’s ability to book other big events in the future.
When it comes to big events, Cleveland has played host to plenty of them over the last few years. From the Republican National Convention in 2016, to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in 2019, to the NFL Draft last year. Next month, the NBA is back for its star-studded weekend beginning February 18.
"The bottom line is, first and foremost, this is incredibly impactful for Cleveland. Organizations like the NBA feel that Cleveland knows how to do it better than anybody else," said David Gilbert, President and CEO of Destination Cleveland and the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission.
And the better we do it, the more benefits we reap. As it stands, events will be held downtown at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, the Wolstein Center, Tower City, and Public Auditorium. There are also smaller events going on simultaneously across the region.
"On top of all of this, there will be 400 other events that happen in and around the city. We have different community activations that will happen in the neighborhoods," explains Nic Barlage, president of business operations for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
With more than 130,000 out-of-towners expected to come here from around the world, there will be plenty of foot traffic to give local businesses a boost.
"We think there’s a tidal wave of commerce and activity that’s going to hit here as we build into this weekend over the next 5 weeks," Barlage adds.
The biggest worry for many of those businesses is ensuring they have the staffing to sustain a weekend of fun, as restaurants struggle to fill openings amid the ongoing pandemic. The same goes for hotels, many of which are booked to capacity already. That's why organizers are asking small businesses to get ready now, so we don't fall flat during our moment in the spotlight.
"We want to make sure we capture that and we make the most of it for all of our businesses that are in and around the city," says Barlage.
Even with COVID-19 in play, organizers expect to see a $100 million economic impact across the region thanks to All-Star Weekend. We spoke to several restaurant owners who say they’re excited to kick off the year with a major event. Many of them are hoping to announce their own special events in the coming weeks.