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How smaller sporting events are having a big economic impact on Cleveland

Posted at 7:36 AM, Jan 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-04 07:36:40-05

It’s understandable that when selling Cleveland, the brochures and videos tout the blues and greens of summer living not the grays and whites of winter surviving but that simple fact is what makes the importance of filling hotels, restaurants and venues in these winter months so important.

That’s where the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission says they have been especially successful in securing ten major sporting events in 2018 that promise to generate over $30 million in economic impact because many of them come in less than peak tourist times.

As sports fans, Cleveland knows the impact of the NBA playoffs on the city but probably not the Junior Volleyball Association’s Rock ‘n Rumble set to get underway January 13 but they probably should.

The 2-day volleyball tournament at the Huntington Convention Center features 325 teams of teen volleyball players from across the country filling hotels and restaurants during an otherwise slow January weekend with an economic impact of $3.15 million.

 "Hotels downtown for instance might be running 80 percent occupancy in the summer and might be at 40 or 50 percent in the winter so when we have a big event that comes in in January, February, March they're starved for that business,” said Greater Cleveland Sports Commission President & CEO David Gilbert.

The biggest of the prizes the Sports Commission landed this year is the NCAA Division I Men’s Wrestling Championship set for March 15-17 at Quicken Loans Arena. It’s a tournament that is a sleeping giant of sorts with a $15 million impact.

"With NCAA people know about the Final Four in basketball, some people know the Frozen Four,” Gilbert said. “NCAA Division I wrestling is even more impactful to the community than those. While it's not as high profile it will sellout Quicken Loans Arena for multiple days and we expect about 19,000 of the 20,000 thousand fans in the arena will be from outside of Cleveland. It sort of has a cult following wherever it goes.”

Fans of wrestling they hope to send home as fans and ambassadors of Cleveland.

“We know that Cleveland needs to continually work to change its perception locally, regionally, nationally and we know that the number one that is done is to bring  people here and so when you bring 19,000 people to down the majority of which will have never been to Cleveland, they will think very differently of Cleveland and our research shows that,” Gilbert said.