CLEVELAND — Destination Cleveland CEO David Gilbert said getting the NBA All-Star Game to come back to Cleveland was like "hitting a grand slam."
Gilbert said landing the NBA All-Star Weekend can do nothing but continue to help Cleveland attract other big events over the next decade.
“It's one of the most significant events that our community can host," Gilbert said. “Direct spending from out-of-market to Cleveland should absolutely exceed $100 million dollars.”
Gilbert said there are already ten national events set to be hosted by Cleveland in 2022, with additional events already scheduled over the next four years.
“We have the NCAA Women’s Final Four in 2024, we have the Pan-American Masters Games in 2024, Gilbert said. It’s sort of like a world masters Olympics. We have NCAA Men’s first and second round basketball tournament in 2025 and the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships In 2026.”
Still, Gilbert said adding another venue in the downtown area would help to generate a wider variety of events later this decade.
“There has been talk on and off through the years of some form of soccer stadium of 10,000 to 12,000," Gilbert said. “There’s a lot of big events that we’ve hosted that have had such a good experience that they will look to come back here.”
Baiju Shah, CEO with the Greater Cleveland Partnership, told News 5 additional infrastructure improvements would also help to maintain the big event momentum.
“I love that we have the women’s final four, I would love to have the men’s final four as well," Shah said. "The need for more connectivity between our hotels and our convention and meeting facilities, we’ve also talked about the need for an improved passenger experience though our airport terminal.”
Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb said the addition of a city Division of Special Events and Marketing in 2022 will help to attract even more event planners nationwide.
“It’s critical that we always have an all-hands on deck approach to making sure that we can attract and retain these events," Bibb said.
Meanwhile, NBA Celebrity All-Star game participant and former Cleveland Cavaliers Guard Daniel "Booby" Gibson told News 5 all-star weekend is sure to propel Cleveland to even more big events.
“People like to make jokes and say Cleveland is this, Cleveland is that," Gibson said. "So to see them as the mecca of the basketball world right now with all this great talent, and the fans get to experience such a great weekend, I think it's beautiful."