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Bill Radke: I am not a big sports fan, but lately I’ve been having conversations with coworkers that I haven’t had since Michael Jordan days. And they are about LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers
and the unbelievable basketball he plays. Now that may not sound like a big deal or even a business story to you, but to the city of Cleveland it is huge. Marketplace’s Rico Gagliano tells us why.
Rico Gagliano: The recession hit Cleveland hard. The city’s been ranked one of the weakest housing markets in the country, and unemployment in Cuyahoga County reached 9.3 percent in February. A bright spot? The Cavaliers.
Frank Jackson is Cleveland’s Mayor:
Frank Jackson: In a playoff situation moving towards a championship, there’s always the economic benefit of admission tax and people going to restaurants and hotels.
He says he expects the team and LeBron James’ starpower to attract fans from way outside the city, tourist dollars in tow. But LeBron’s contract expires next year, and some say he won’t be long for Cleveland.
Alan Sanderson teaches the business of sports at the University of Chicago:
Alan Sanderson: Star athletes are going to move to where the lights are brightest, and that’s usually in New York or Los Angeles.
Then again, fans and some sportwriters say LeBron, a native of nearby Akron, may be too loyal to leave town. One thing’s likely: when this playoff battle ends, the battle for his next contract begins.
In Los Angeles, I’m Rico Gagliano for Marketplace.
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