CLEVELAND — Former New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is now the newest member of the Cleveland Browns but this has business owners and experts questioning how Beckham’s star power will benefit the city’s economy, particularly in downtown.
Gillespie’s Map room on West 9th Street is one of the hottest spots in downtown Cleveland’s bar scene and on any given Browns game day, Manager Jackie Morere says it’s “complete chaos.”
“We’re the local bar in downtown so everyone piles in here, it’s usually a line around the building,” she said.
And now, with the team and fans welcoming wide-receiver Odell Beckham Jr., Morere said, “It’s going to be absolutely insane.”
Cleveland fans are already used to seeing power house sports figures come and go.
Of course, Lebron James’ impact pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into Cleveland’s economy.
But can Odell’s star power do the same?
“There’s nothing quite like LeBron coming back home and the excitement attached to that, but I think there’s certainly some similarities to look at,” said Michael Deemer, Downtown Cleveland Alliance’s Executive Vice President of Business Development.
Deemer said those similarities include joining forces with an already surging downtown.
“We added the casino, the Flats East bank project, the Huntington Convention center, we added literally thousands of residents to downtown Cleveland, a lot of jobs, and LeBron’s return really just poured an accelerant on all of that,” he said.
Deemer added the local economy took a minor hit with James’ exit.
But with the city hosting the 2019 MLB All-Star Game, NBA All-Star in 2022, Rock and Roll Inductions every other year and Playhouse Square productions, OBJ will be icing on the cake.
“The excitement that that’s bringing to the city, the excitement that will follow. All those things are only going to help us attract even more investment, more talent, more business more jobs.”