NBA Finals provide another chance to sell the Cleveland story to people around the world

CLEVELAND - Hosting the NBA Finals is a huge economic booster for Cleveland as thousands embark to downtown to witness an exciting moment in the city's history. Those who can't make it to Cleveland will be getting their view of the city from media around the world, so local organizations are highlighting everything our city has to offer.

"Every home game is estimated to have nearly $4 million in direct spending," said Destination Cleveland President and CEO David Gilbert of the money spent on hotels, restaurants and the like, but there's another dividend that's tough to put a dollar figure on.

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"I think that most importantly for Cleveland, it keeps our city in the national spotlight. You know the NBA Finals are one of the most watched sporting events in the world, and the fact that Cleveland is in it, that some of the games will be coming live from Cleveland, still means a great deal when it happens."

The NBA Finals is an international event televised in 215 countries and territories in 50 languages. Many viewers are seeing Cleveland for the first time. That's why the folks at Destination Cleveland are working with the media, pitching story ideas or live shot locations that show the city at its finest.

Still, does having many of the same media returning for the fourth year in a row present a challenge? 

"A little bit, " Gilbert said.  

"You know one of the great things from, say, when the RNC was here, you had so many people seeing Cleveland with fresh eyes and really helping to dispel what people thought of Cleveland of 30-40 years ago. So if you have people here, and they're here for the second, third, fourth time, they've already seen what Cleveland is so a little bit of a challenge in continuing to advance that narrative but so many of the people here still haven't seen it.

"There may be new reporters, new media, clearly they're all here focused on basketball, but we still work hard to make sure for those who haven't seen Cleveland that we get them to see Cleveland through very fresh eyes and even now, even for the fourth year it gives us tremendous opportunity that doesn't come along very often."

And that's the thing Gilbert says they never take for granted.

"We can't be complacent and yawn about this kind of opportunity because whenever it's gone, it's hard to get back," he said.

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