“We know how to take an event and make it bigger, make it better, and make it more successful,” said David Gilbert, President and CEO of Destination Cleveland.
CLEVELAND — We’re less than a month away from all the dunks, tricks and stars of NBA All-Star Weekend in Cleveland. How ready is the city to take center stage?
“We hear time and time again that Cleveland is one of the best host cities for these events, that we know how to do it right,” said David Gilbert, President and CEO of Destination Cleveland and Greater Cleveland. Sports Commission, to 3News.
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The city certainly has an impressive track record. In the past seven years alone, it has hosted the Republican National Convention, the MLB All-Star Game, and the NFL Draft, to name a few. However, in a few weeks, it’s all about basketball.
“We know how to get the community involved around this,” Gilbert said. “We know how to take an event and make it bigger, make it better, and make it more successful.”
Signs have already started going up (and more are on the way) to welcome the more than 130,000 people who are expected to travel to greater Cleveland.
“Hotel rooms are packed and the rates are sky high,” Gilbert said. “All of this translates into big dollars pumped into our community. It’s probably estimated somewhere north of $100 million.”
This money will not only go downtown; there are nearly 400 total events held at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, Wolstein Center, Tower City, the Public Auditorium, and many smaller locations in the area. Some events are free, while some of the more well-known attractions are quite expensive.
“The All-Star Game itself is largely sold out and the remaining tickets are very expensive,” Gilbert said. “Fortunately, there are so many things the public can take advantage of to be a part of this whole weekend.”
One of the big unknowns that remains concerns health protocols. We’ve had a spike in COVID-19 cases over the past few months in the region, but things seem to be moving in the right direction. Gilbert says they’ve discussed it with the NBA medical team and other city organizations, with a final decision expected soon.
“The Cavs have done a great job hosting major events,” he added. “Not just the Cavs again and again, but the gigs and the Rock Hall inductions, so we’re feeling pretty good. I would expect that, probably within the next week or 10 days, there will be an announcement of what the final protocols will be.”
Regardless of the protocols, thousands will come to Cleveland the weekend of Feb. 18, and Gilbert says they’ll leave impressed.
“We know from research the perception of Cleveland,” he admitted. “We’ve always had issues, but it’s definitely getting a lot better. We also know that the No. 1 way to change someone’s perception of Cleveland is to bring them here. That’s a big part of the rationale for these events.”
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