CLEVELAND — Ever since the Republican National Convention picked Cleveland in 2016, the city has proved over and over again that it can handle big, national events.
For the NBA All-Star Weekend, The Land is offering a new, big venue in a part of town that, until now, didn’t really have a spot to park a few hundred visitors and VIPs.
“There are a couple of smaller venues and spaces that are not even designed as venues that function as venues from time to time because of the views, because of the location, the proximity to downtown without being downtown,” said Harbor Bay Real Estate Advisors Vice President of Design & Development Dan Whalen.
His project, INTRO, is topped off with a massive event space that can hold roughly 700 people for a cocktail hour, or 300-325 when it’s set up for banquet-style events.
Over the summer, when the bones of the building were still visible from West 25th Street, Whalen announced that INTRO was already committed to host NBA All-Star events this weekend, with residents due to move into the building’s nearly 300 apartment units soon after.
Even with workers putting the finishing touches on the building less than a week before the first event, INTRO is slated to meet its tight construction deadlines and help draw some of the NBA All-Star Weekend’s economic benefit across the river.
Destination Cleveland said they expect roughly $100 million to be spent in local businesses, with 400-500 private events happening over the course of the week.
Ohio City is happy to host as many of them as it can.
“Ohio City this summer is at an inflection point,” said Market Garden Co-Owner Sam McNulty.
McNulty’s back-of-the-envelope math found that there are roughly 1,800 new residents moving into the apartments being built or coming online soon.
At the same time, multiple restaurants and entertainment spots along West 25th Street are getting major facelifts to welcome in post-pandemic crowds.
“I feel like right now the pandemic is in the rear view mirror,” said McNulty. “The question is now far in the rear view mirror.”
It’s why he says the NBA All-Star Weekend is coming at a good time.
“The hospitality market has really been on its heels the last two years and this feels like we’re really going to be charging forward and really seeing some positive gains,” said McNulty.
Big landmarks of the past, like West Side Market, and the new additions, like INTRO, make it a little easier to expand the spots where visitors and residents land.
“It’s getting people out of that [Downtown Cleveland] core,” said Whalen. “Especially people who have preconceived notions of what Cleveland is, or was, and it’s sticking with them.”
Even after the attention from the weekend dies down, Whalen says INTRO will still be one of the biggest locations on the near west side for programs bringing people together.
“We’ve got draft shows, we’ve got fashion shows, we’ve got art galleries, we’ve got all kinds of things that really capture that essence of Ohio City,” said Whalen.
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