November 25, 2014

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Rock Hall inductions coming in 2009

CLEVELAND — After more than a decade away, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s induction ceremony will return to Cleveland in 2009.

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AP

Along with Rock Hall representatives at a Cleveland City Hall news conference, Mayor Frank Jackson announced Wednesday that the induction ceremony will return to the Rock Hall’s home in 2009 and possibly every third year thereafter.

“Having the induction ceremonies return to Cleveland is a major accomplishment that will put our city in the national spotlight and provide a real economic return to Northeast Ohio,” Jackson said.

The hall already is a key player in Cleveland’s economy, contributing more than $100 million annually, according to Rock Hall Board of Trustees President Frank Sullivan. 

But the induction ceremony, an enormously lucrative opportunity, usually skips Cleveland. Though the Rock Hall is in Cleveland, the ceremony — including a concert performed by the inductees — has been held in New York City every year except for Cleveland’s hosting in 1997.

The 2009 induction ceremony, tentatively scheduled for March, will be an important bellwether for the ceremony’s future. Cleveland’s ability to compete financially with the ceremonies held in New York is integral to Cleveland’s likelihood of hosting it every third year.

Although the city has hopes of seeing the ceremony return, only the 2009 ceremony is guaranteed to be in Cleveland.

Jackson, however, was adamant Wednesday that the ceremony will be back.

“It is guaranteed to be here in 2012,” he said, and a bit later: “We will do what needs to be done to have the ceremony back in 2012.”

The city made a sizeable investment to host the Women’s Final Four basketball tournament in Cleveland, and the investment paid off, city officials said.

The hall inductions were routinely held in New York because it’s one of the centers of the entertainment industry and is where the foundation got its start, said Joel Peresman, the Rock Hall’s foundation’s president and CEO. The ceremony serves as the foundation’s main fundraiser and needs the support of the recording industry to make it successful.

Jackson credited Peresman, who joined the foundation 18 months ago, with opening the discussion to bring the ceremony to Cleveland. Over the last year, government officials and the business community worked with the foundation’s leaders to figure out how to make the event a financial success in Cleveland.

“Everybody started to realize we need these kind of events in Cleveland. How many events do we go out and chase?” hall CEO Terry Stewart said. “This is one we can have here on a regular basis. We’ve all kind of pulled together to make it happen.”

One idea is to expand the event’s festivities to span multiple days or even a week, Peresman said.

Though the ceremony historically has been held on a Monday night in New York City for venue booking reasons, it is likely to be held in Cleveland on a Saturday night.

Expanding the event on either side of the actual ceremony could be Cleveland’s key to maximizing the profits.

Jackson said his and the city’s efforts to embrace the hall as a defining feature of the city have led to significant growth for attendance.

This year’s figures show a 10 percent increase, museum officials said.

“The inductions represent both an economic and emotional investment in Cleveland and gives us the opportunity to show the world that Cleveland really does rock,” Jackson said.

Currently, a capital campaign aimed at raising $35 million for the hall is $15 million short of the goal. Much of the money will go to a permanent library on Cuyahoga Community College’s campus and for renovating the museum’s interior.

As part of that initiative, Peresman presented Stewart with a check for $8 million Wednesday.

“This represents our commitment financially, as well as emotionally, to the capital campaign,” Peresman said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact Michael Baker at 329-7128 or mbaker@chroniclet.com.