Lebron James’ economic impact on Cleveland and Miami | IN 60 SECONDS


As many Cleveland sports fans will remember, NBA superstar LeBron James took his talents to South Beach in 2010, only to return to Cleveland in 2014. In a new paper, Cleveland-born Danny Shoag and I look at what LeBron’s moves between Miami and Cleveland meant for the economies of each city. We looked at the number of bars and restaurants within a mile of the American Airlines Arena in Miami and the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, and then compared years in which LeBron was present to years in which he was not. Now, when LeBron is around, there are 13 percent more bars and restaurants, and they employ a little under 25 percent more people. To ensure that this is indeed a “LeBron effect”, and not simply the results of citywide booms and busts, we check what happens farther out: not much, it turns out. This confirms our suspicion: that sports superstars can indeed have a noticeable economic impact, but that that impact is very local. These effects are greater in Cleveland than they are in Miami – and that is a clear indication that LeBron should not have left in the first place. To read our full paper on the “LeBron effect”, check the links in the description below. Also, let us know what other topics you want AEI scholars to cover in 60 seconds.

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