The economic value of pro sports surfaces at A.J. Rocco's

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Mon, 05/15/2006 - 12:52.

While I'm not a pro sports expert, I was very pleased to see today, having coffee at A. J. Rocco's, a friendly table of local sports experts including at least one of the Cleveland Cavliers - probably the only one I'd recognize out of uniform (and I don't mean King James). I asked if they minded me taking a picture but they weren't dressed for the press. So, if you want to hang out with the Cavs, in their hangouts, you'll have to come downtown to A.J. Rocco's yourself. Or, you could reach out to them...

It occurred to me, as I was talking to at least one sports superstar, that he was probably one of the most wealthy and powerful people in NEO, especially at the global level. So, while we may debate the overall regional economic development merits of tax-subsidized ballparks, there is no question the millionaires created here are good for the economy. We don't usually see the little, day to day benefits of professional sports in NEO, like the cups of coffee bought in downtown Cleveland by players and staff who work in the area stadium and arena. If anyone is interested in this subject, post here as I intend to explore this dynamic further on REALNEO, and could use the help of some real sports fans.

It was nice to be able to wish one of the leading Cavs the best of luck, just a few hours before pivotal game 4 of the series against Detroit - Go Cleveland - Go Cavs!

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Must be the espresso

Congratulations to the Cavs for another great win - fueled by A. J. Rocco's espresso. See you back downtown Friday, to wrap this series up.

The Cavs are bringing it!



Great news on hearing about local sports heroes enjoying the Rocco's vibe.  There is no

question that sports are a NEO mainstay - and why not?  They offer great entertainment,

and  gridiron battlefields where warriors leave it all on the turf and live to fight another



Baseball fans can relish a cold brew and watch the intricate story that is baseball unfold.

And the fans come from all over the region and beyond to see their beloved Browns,

Indians, and Cavs represent.  The economic impact of the NEO sports tradition is

obviously significant - and only more so when these teams are winning and local sports

heroes like Lebron dazzle the world.   The Cavs Playoff games alone are generating

millions for the  city and its  many businesses.  And its great to see the shared spirit

generated by these athletic teams , one which transcends all demographic lines.


Rashed Wallace, eat your words - the Cavs did NOT go down in game four and we have

ourselves a great series...




At the risk of getting  ridden out of town on a rail I beg to disagree with this thesis (no dollar analysis I’ve seen provides support) that taxpayer subsidy of private sports teams brings the bacon back home. 


In my book the benefits of pro sports are limited to: 


  1. Inspiration of youth to be involved in school sports so they get the benefit of exercise. 
  2. Although it is a lottery-odds longshot,  a tiny fraction of sport focused kids are able to make a professional career out of it – reaching a high paying career perhaps without much education. 


In the US the pro sports conglomerate is a not-so-subtle conspiracy between club owners and television owners (and other media) who need content so they can sell television viewers (you) to advertisers.   The Nielson ratings  determine the price (on your eye balls) charged to the advertisers.


I say:  Do sports - don’t watch sports.  Make video - don’t watch television. And if sports is such a good business opportunity, let the owners build privately funded venues – not sucker punch the taxpayers with fees on parking (etc)  at the playhouse and elsewhere.


While  “Bread and Circus” captured the Roman’s control philosophy – give the public enough to eat and entertain them, and government will  have a placid population.  There’s a bit of this in pro sports as well. 


The empty Browns Stadium is to me a glaring symbol of Cleveland’s ill priorities.  The Stadium is sucking $ to pay off the bonds out of the regional economic system every day.   Each publicly funded venue is the same.  Go figure…


GO CAVS!!!!!




Pro sports as a credential

I think one value of professional sports is the validation of a community as significant - I'm sure nothing promotes the Cleveland brand more globally and richly than our sports teams. Pro sports events bring tourists/enthusiasts into town, even if just from the 'burbs, and that we have professional sports keeps people here - I'm sure this is a factor in many "buy" decisions in the region.

Of course, because of genocide in America's past, I cannot support the "Indians", regardless of their economic value to Cleveland - change the name to the "Progressives" and socially conscious people can cheer their home team, and the economic benefit will be even greater (I believe the benefit of thus doing right will be huge).

With an office near Gateway and the Gund/Q, I see the 100,000s of people in town each week spending $ millions at area hotels, restaurants and shops (and especially parking)... in many case, sports is the only thing that will bring folks from the suburbs to the city. I consider the Gateway district a success, although still in early stages of regional economic impact.

Of course, ODOT has set physical boundaries to the value of Gateway by boxing it in with the elevated I-90 freeway, which they now want to expand furtherer toward Carnegie. Compounding the harm of this concrete wall is the lack of community sophisitication planning development around Gateway toward the river. Most disturbing, at hearings about ODOT's impact on development in the area, representatives of the Gateway development corporation stated they do not want to see land open up for more development around Gateway...  they see expansion of the economy around Gateway as competition to existing Gateway property owners and businesses, reflecting a very shortsighted glass half empty mindset rampant among planners impacting Cleveland (like the claim of city planners that only Wolstein can develop the East Bank of the Flats, so we should allow him to do whatever he wants).

But, I was just thinking last night about how negative the impact of all the development along the lakefront has been for the region - not just the Stadium but the Rock Hall and Science Center, isolated out there away from everyone and everything (except miles of surface parking) - little islands of limited attraction with absolutely no synergy or collective value. That is not the fault of taxpayers, the sports industry or fans but the fault of NEO political and social leaders who chose to build two single-purpose stadiums instead of one great facility. Can we undo the damage done?

Nonetheless, I'm glad we have the global status as a major player in professional sports - that's the main thing that keeps Cleveland on the global map these days, and that can be leveraged further (just as we can further leverage being the home of the great team of artists at the Cleveland Institute of Art).

And to me that is the key to a good future for this region - bring folks back into the core for whatever attracts them - sports works fine - and use the opportunity to broaden their appreciation for other things that are great here, like arts, food, culture, music...

1 way for sports stars to contribute to NEO

Next time you see Anderson Varejao ("Wild Thing") at A.J. Rocco's ask him to do St. Baldrick's Day next year. I bet he could raise a million dollars.

The "Wild Thing" going bald?!?!

Great idea - he could raise $millions for cancer research. For more on St. Baldricks at A.J. Rocco's, see write-up here...

roman style or another style; we celebrate community differently

You got the coliseum, the big cats and the gladiators, the alcohol and all the folks being placated and titillated in that big sports arena even the Barbie whores bouncing in rows.

    I have tried to like pro sports so I could fit in, but my tendency is to agree with Jeff on this one. And I shudder to know that our economy and our "brand" are dependent on gambling/MSM and gathering in dangerous numbers. Why do guys go to those sporting events -- is it to be there when they win or lose their office pool or backroom brackets? Because that's what real men (and now women) do? Why are we so drawn to be in that trembling mass of humanity moving like sheep in accord (or not) with the strangers surrounding us? I guess I just don’t really get it. I’d rather be listening to a great string quartet or poetry read aloud our dancing around the fire.

What about dancing around the fire?

From East Coker by T. S. Eliot

In that open field
If you do not come too close, if you do not come too close,
On a summer midnight, you can hear the music
Of the weak pipe and the little drum
And see them dancing around the bonfire
The association of man and woman
In daunsinge, signifying matrimonie—
A dignified and commodiois sacrament.
Two and two, necessarye coniunction,
Holding eche other by the hand or the arm
Whiche betokeneth concorde. Round and round the fire
Leaping through the flames, or joined in circles,
Rustically solemn or in rustic laughter
Lifting heavy feet in clumsy shoes,
Earth feet, loam feet, lifted in country mirth
Mirth of those long since under earth
Nourishing the corn. Keeping time,
Keeping the rhythm in their dancing
As in their living in the living seasons
The time of the seasons and the constellations
The time of milking and the time of harvest
The time of the coupling of man and woman
And that of beasts. Feet rising and falling.
Eating and drinking. Dung and death.

    Dawn points, and another day
Prepares for heat and silence. Out at sea the dawn wind
Wrinkles and slides. I am here
Or there, or elsewhere. In my beginning.

Embracing the sports community?!?!

Good point, Susan. I don't care for professional sports and do not gamble. Why people do either is beyond me, but I'm fine with that - my parents watch golf on TV and neither play golf... go figure.

My only problems with professional sports in Cleveland is the identity of the Indians, and that many sports stars seem to drive gas-guzzlers for status. I'd rather see King James paid millions than Brittany Spears, or Oprah. And I'd rather see hords of sports fanatics storming our clubs and restaurants than 1,000,000,000s of religious fundamentalists bombing others' personal freedoms and civil rights - no communities I know of have been massacred over a game of cricket (not to say many insane "football" fans haven't tried)...

People like to get together, whether for entertainment, knowledge or mating - the sports experience is not unlike the concert experience. So perhaps we may do a better job in NEO of leveraging people's enthusism to convene for sports to bolster the community's awareness of other greatness here. If sports events attract 1,000,000s to Cleveland each year, shouldn't we use that opportunity to expose those people to other forms of culture?

The Tremont art walk combines one form of natural social interaction (dining and partying) with art, and that expands the experience and value for all, which attracts a larger and more diverse population that has become a richer version of both root communities - people convene for the combination of Tremont and art. The same could apply with sports and art.

These soprts events "capture" people and their minds and money - no fighting that. So how may the NEO arts community share the cultural pie with the professional sports community? Integrate. Our community leaders haven't been creative and progressive enough to combine arts and sports here, beyond a few public art works hidden around Gateway, so this must be a bottom-up initiative. How may we better leverage sports for higher value here?

Suggestions - before events and at halftime, you could provide modern dance, or opera - Three Tenors and Riverdance show the crossover potential. Use pro sports to highlight local artists - I'd rather a 20 story Derek Hess illustration of King James than the revolting Nike Swoop banner off Public Square - any of the local teams ever hire local artists to help expand the audiences for their teams? I didn't think so.

In the paper today, Larry Dolan is praised for something called college360 - these wealthy team owners are willing to invest in aspects of the community beyond sports, even if just to promote their own brands. So, while I don't like where the money of any of the sports team owners comes from (high interest credit cards and loans, cable TV, home shopping, MTV-nation), nor do I like sports, I certainly see the social and economic activity created by sports as a treasury for other community development. Therethrough, the arts will grow stronger in "brand value", economics and intellectual impact here.