CLEVELAND — With just days to go until NBA All Star Game festivities get underway, hotel leaders tell News 5 they’re booked up and preparing for one of their busiest weekends since the pandemic began.
At the Hilton Cleveland Downtown, Julia Austin, director of Sales & Marketing, said her team is preparing for an NBA Pro Shop in their lobby and an information booth along with other elements specifically for the week. As for available rooms, she told News 5 they’re booked.
“This is definitely a game-changer,” she said. “We are anticipating a full sellout of all of downtown. So if you look online right now, there's no downtown hotels showing availability for the weekend.”
Austin said both of the hotel’s bars will be open all week until 2:30 a.m., with the potential to be open later depending on how busy it is. In addition, The Burnham restaurant reopened last week for the first time in nearly two years.
Even as the hospitality industry continues its trajectory toward full recovery since the pandemic started, Austin said February is typically a slower month for hotels in Northeast Ohio, with her team averaging 20-30% capacity during the month.
“At this point, we’re very excited for 100% occupancy on a weekend in February,” she added.
During a news conference on Monday, David Gilbert, President & CEO of Destination Cleveland and the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, said he expects an estimated $100 million in new direct spending from outside the community surrounding the NBA All-Star Game.
According to the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, the 2021 NFL Draft pumped $42 million into Northeast Ohio's economy, which was less than half of the $100 million dollars originally predicted. An estimated 160,000 people attended draft events over three days last April.
When you take a closer look at the previous cities to host the NBA All-Star Game, such as Chicago, Charlotte and Los Angeles, the hotel numbers stand out.
Carter Wilson serves as senior vice president at STR, a global hospitality data and analytics company.
“I would fully expect for those few days leading up to the game, you’re going to see the occupancy rate increase to 80-90%, particularly as you get closer to the venue itself,” Wilson said.
Looking back at previous NBA All-Star Game hosts, Wilson told News 5 a similar city like Charlotte in 2019 saw its occupancy rate jump 25% compared to the same weekend day a year ago. STR data also shows Charlotte saw its average daily room rate nearly double compared to the same day a year ago.
“I think it’s obvious when you have events like these, it’s a tremendous economic impact, and the smaller the city, the greater the impact,” he said. “Cleveland is going to enjoy at least several days of a huge lift that not only affects the hospitality industry, food and beverage, everything in the downtown industry.”
“Cleveland really showed what we could do last year when we hosted the NFL Draft,” Austin added. “We showcased how we could go it safely and still make it really fun and I think you’re going to see that again next week here with the NBA All-Star Game.”
The NBA All-Star Game is set for Sunday, February 20.