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NBA All-Star Game helped fill workers’ pockets in Cleveland

Harry Buffalo manager said private party benefited staff with 'great money.'

CLEVELAND — Cleveland did it again. The city hosted a big event seen by millions that generated millions of dollars for the local economy.

Exactly how much? Time will tell.

Civic leaders estimated the three-day event could inject $100 million of new spending into the local economy. Economists who study large sports events have said such estimates are inflated because they don’t account for the cost to taxpayers of hosting the event or for money that flows out of the city through national hotel chains.

But the economic benefit hit home for those working in bars and restaurants near Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Many places, such as downtown’s Harry Buffalo, were rented out for private parties.

“There was a lot of preparation leading up to this because we knew we had a monster weekend ahead of us,” said Mike Potraffke, who oversaw a private party for the locally owned Harry Buffalo chain. “The weekend was fantastic. The staff, customers, everyone had a lot of fun. Business was great and the staff made some great money which was very important to us. It was great was to be on national stage and businesses big and small all capitalized from this weekend.”

The Greater Cleveland Sports Commission said that in addition to the hospitality industry, local event services – such as lighting companies and banner companies – benefited.

Cleveland area hotels were half full last year due to the pandemic but were sold out this past week.

Cleveland businesswoman Radhika Reddy said the weekend fueled bookings at her historic Ariel Broadway Hotel in Lorain, opened in 2020, just 10 days before COVID’s first wave shut it down.

Reddy, a partner with Ariel Ventures, she said the NBA All-Star Game filled her hotel.

“We did do an ad targeting NBA customers on Facebook and we were very fortunate to get NBA people to come and stay,” Reddy said. “We sold out on Friday and Saturday and did pretty good on Sunday, too. So, we were excited.”  

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