April 19, 2014

Elyria
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Cleveland happy for finals boon

M.R. Kropko
The Associated Press
CLEVELAND — A hand-painted message on the window at Flannery’s Pub says it all: “We Believe.”
Fans have faith in the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are playing the franchise’s first NBA finals. But pub manager Christine Connell also believes dollars and brews are about to flow as fast as a LeBron James slam dunk.
The NBA finals are expected to generate millions of dollars for local businesses in a week unlike anything since the city hosted the World Series 10 years ago. The Cavaliers, who lost the opening game of the championship series to the San Antonio Spurs, stay on the road for today’s Game 2 before the series shifts to Cleveland on Tuesday.
“It’s really exciting,” said Connell, whose pub near Quicken Loans Arena was very busy throughout the Cavaliers’ playoff run to the finals. “All my staff wants to be here. It’s just fun. We’ve been hoping for it all season. What’s happened has been incredible.”
Connell is gearing up by stocking the pub with beer and food at three times the normal rate, and she’s hoping that will suffice. Game 4 is Thursday and Game 5, if needed, is scheduled for next weekend.
Her only similar experience was when the Cleveland Indians were in baseball’s World Series in 1995 and 1997.
“I anticipate people just wanting to be in the city, close by, to be part of the excitement,” Connell said.
Meanwhile, some larger venues, like the Cleveland Marriott Downtown at Key Center, was close to selling out its 400 rooms, said Chris Tageson, sales director.
“Whenever you have an opposing team in town for something like this, there is a large following, and you can cater to that crowd,” she said.
Tageson said the NBA finals could produce sales about $300,000 in excess of what the hotel might otherwise have taken in.
It’s not clear how much hotel business may spill over to Cleveland’s suburbs, but Nanci Haley, general manager of Embassy Suites in Beachwood, is getting ready.
“When downtown hotels start to get sold out, there tends to be a ripple effect,” said Haley, vice president of the Ohio Hotel and Lodging Association.
It’s a nice economic boost for civic leaders in Cleveland, which the U.S. Census Bureau ranks as the nation’s most-impoverished big city.
Game tickets, food and retail sales at Quicken Loans Arena are projected to top $4 million for each game, said Tamera Brown, a spokeswoman for the Greater Cleveland Convention & Visitors Bureau.
The city is optimistic that finals-related revenue at hotels will reach $2.5 million per game, and sales at the city’s restaurants and retail shops may reach about $2 million per game, said Virginia Carlson, deputy director for research, outreach and marketing in Cleveland’s Economic Development Department.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum also hoped be among the venues boosting sales by having staff members make surprise greetings to travelers arriving at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, in particular flights from San Antonio.