‘LeBron effect’ leads to 23% jump in hospitality jobs near arenas, study says

CLEVELAND, Ohio — LeBron James has a significant effect on the number of businesses and jobs around basketball arenas, according to new research.

More specifically, the number of eating and drinking establishments close to the arenas in Cleveland and Miami grew when James played on those teams. A working paper from the American Enterprise Institute, a nonpartisan public policy research institute, found that with James present the number of these businesses increases 13 percent. The number of jobs present in this industry increases too, by 23 percent.

Researchers Stan Veuger, of the American Enterprise Institute, and Daniel Shoag of Harvard University — from Cleveland originally — tracked economic development near American Airlines Arena in Miami after James’ move to the Heat, and then Quicken Loans Arena after he came back. 

Other studies have shown that having superstars on the team could lead to an economic boost. But, it could be that the teams are winning more with people like James on them — the number of wins and the amount of restaurants have a positive correlation.

The paper concludes this growth deteriorates quickly as you move away from the stadium. The effects above are within a mile. When researchers looked beyond 7 miles, the effect was no longer there. 

Earlier studies examined the economic impact of James’ return, and concluded while more money might have been spent in the area, it could just be redistribution of dollars that would have otherwise been spent in different neighborhoods. 

Read the full study here.

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