TIME Sports

Economist: LeBron James Worth Almost $500 Million to Cleveland

Cleveland Celebrates LeBron James Coming Home
A Cleveland Cavaliers fan watches news coverage of LeBron James' return at Panini's Bar and Grille in downtown Cleveland on July 11, 2014 Angelo Merendino—Getty Images

But a lot would have to go exactly right

When LeBron James announced that he was coming home to the Cleveland Cavaliers, he did more than give long-suffering fans reason to believe the city could soon win its first championship in any major sport since 1964. King James also boosted Cleveland’s bottom line.

The greatest player on the planet could be an economic catalyst for the Rust Belt city. More fans will flock to Quicken Loans Arena to see James play, more staff will be needed at the arena to handle those larger crowds, more money will be spent during games at local bars and restaurants, and all of that will get pumped back into the region. The result, says LeRoy Brooks, a professor of finance at the Boler School of Business at John Carroll University in suburban Cleveland, could be nearly $500 million added to the local economy. Call it the LeBron Effect.

Of course, that forecast is preliminary and depends on a number of variables. Here’s how Brooks found his way to $500 million (or so):

Cleveland’s home-ticket prices last year averaged $68.17, according to TiqIQ. In 2009–10, the last season James played in Cleveland prior to leaving for Miami, Cavs ticket prices averaged $195. Last season, Cavs fans paid $202.74, on average, to watch Miami beat Cleveland.

Miami had the NBA’s highest average ticket price last season, at $245. To account for the lower cost of living in Cleveland, let’s make what still might be a conservative estimate: Cavs tickets go for $210, on average (remember — this doesn’t mean there won’t be plenty of seats for far less). Cavs attendance last year averaged 17,329 per game. With James, the Cavs are likely to fill up their arena’s capacity of 20,562. Spread over 41 home games, James could bring in $129 million in additional ticket revenue for Cleveland.

According to Brooks, Cleveland’s leisure economy — think hotels, bars, restaurants, shops — lost $48 million in annual revenue after James left, as fans and media lost interest in the team and spent less money. Brooks assumes that money is recovered, adjusts it for inflation, and adds a 10% premium for James’ increased popularity since 2009–10 — after all, he’s now a two-time NBA champ, and a player more on par with Michael Jordan than he was when he was last in Cleveland. That’s $57 million in local spending James brings in. Brooks estimates that money will trickle through the greater northeast Ohio area, to the tune of another $114 million. So add that amount to the haul, and that brings in $171 million of non-ticket-related economic activity generated by James. In all, we’re at $300 million.

Now, add the playoffs. Each home game generates around $15 million in economic activity, according to data collected by Brooks. Vegas has already made Cleveland the favorite to win the NBA title. For fun, let’s roll with the oddsmakers and assume the Cavs make it all the way to the finals. Let’s give them home-court advantage in the Eastern Conference playoffs — that could give them three home games a series if they don’t sweep, or if they don’t need a Game 7. Let’s say one series does need a Game 7, and a fourth home game — that’s 10 home games for the three-playoff series. In the finals, say they face the Oklahoma City Thunder or San Antonio Spurs, who have a better record, but take the series to a least a sixth game. That’s three more games. That’s 13 home playoff games in all, or $195 million from the playoffs.

Under this scenario, James delivers $495 million to northeast Ohio.

Brooks is the first to admit these are educated guesses. Cut down the number of playoff games or the average ticket price, and the economic impact will be significantly lower. Plus, the Cleveland metro area has a $111 billion GDP. At around $500 million, James’ impact would be worth just 0.42% of Cleveland’s overall economic activity.

The city has come a long way since it was known as the “Mistake by the Lake.” A booming biomedical sector, fueled by the Cleveland Clinic, has helped recover some of the jobs lost in the decline in manufacturing. The arrival of another hyped star, rookie Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel, and the GOP’s announcement that it will hold the 2016 Republican National Convention in the city have also created some momentum. And the metro-area unemployment has fallen to 6.8%, down from a recession-era high of 10% in January 2010.

Still, that rate is higher than the 6.1% national average. And the Cleveland area ranked in the bottom fifth in the country in job growth from 2012 to 2014, according to USA Today. But James’ return is welcome news in Cleveland no matter the size of the economic benefit — something even an economist can recognize.

“The Cleveland fan can expect the LeBron Effect to provide a lot more positive and less negative experiences then most of them have had in any prior year, or imagined that they would ever see in the future prior to LeBron’s announcement,” says Brooks. “Many would view this as priceless.”

TIME Soccer

World Cup 2014 by the Numbers

400 million tweets, 3.4 million fans, and 171 goals add up to one great tournament

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Footie fans may be leaving Brazil now that the World Cup’s over, but the numbers on one of the biggest events in the world are just coming in.

The World Cup easily became the most tweeted event in history, but the amount of posts, tweets, and selfies (even by the players) is just overwhelming.

Add those numbers with a tie for most goals during a World Cup, a monstrous budget, and some odd team regulations and you have yourself one very exciting sporting tournament.

TIME World Cup

Riots Erupt in Argentina Following World Cup Final Loss

Vandals threw rocks at storefronts and attacked police officers

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What began as a peaceful celebration of Argentina’s performance in the World Cup final against Germany on Sunday incited police response of tear gas and water cannons just a few hours later after the Albicelestes lost the game.

At least 30 people were arrested in downtown Buenos Aires Sunday, CNN reports, following outbursts of vandalism and violence.

Tens of thousands of fans were gathered around the Obelisk to commemorate the first time the team advanced to the World Cup finals since 1990. But the country’s dream of winning the tournament was dashed in the game’s 113th minute, when Germany scored the game’s only goal.

TIME World Cup

Messi’s Legacy Debate Continues

Lionel Messi 2014 World Cup
Lionel Messi of Argentina reacts during the 2014 FIFA World Cup match against Germany on July 13 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Mike Hewitt - FIFA—Getty Images

Messi missed the free kick in the 120th minute of play against Germany, sealing Argentina's fate

sportsillustrated

By Brian Straus

RIO DE JANEIRO – Time was slipping away, yet Lionel Messi still had plenty.

Germany’s Bastian Schweinsteiger, who committed the 120th-minute foul that offered Messi the opportunity for one last look at goal, was receiving treatment a few feet away. The Argentine maestro took advantage of the pause. He stood quietly for a moment then bent over and pressed his fingertips into the ball, testing the air pressure.

On Top of the World: Germany Tops Argentina, Claims 4th World Cup Title

Messi was calm and deliberate, as if he hoped the measured pace of his movement would help clear his mind and calm any nerves. He was about 25 yards away and to the left of Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. Argentina trailed, 1-0, in the dying seconds ofthe World Cup final at the Estádio do Maracanã and its fading hopes for a third title rested where they always had – at Messi’s feet.

It was an opportunity he’d surely rehearsed countless times – maybe as a boy in Rosario, where he was born the year after Diego Maradona carried Argentina to its second world championship. It became more realistic as Messi’s own star ascended in Barcelona, where he won every team trophy there is,along with a record four FIFA World Player of the Year awards. This was supposed to be Messi’s World Cup, the tournament where the sport’s most spectacular player, in his prime at 27, would end any debate about his place in soccer’s pantheon and in the hearts of his countrymen.

The free kick missed by miles, soaring over Neuer and into the crowd. Messi looked up toward the sky with an ironic, resigned smile on his face. That was it. The sport’s greatest goal scorer would be shut out for a fourth consecutive match, one he called “the most important of our lives” in a Facebook post. Argentina would lose the final and Messi, perhaps, his place alongside Pelé and Diego, if that ever was at stake.

Diego Maradona: Lionel Messi unworthy of Golden Ball

It could have been so much simpler. Messi already has accomplished at the club level what Maradona never could, and he played this World Cup under a spotlight that his predecessor couldn’t have imagined 28 years ago. Win it, dominate it, and the argument is over.

Maradona was regarded as supremely gifted – Barcelona bought him from Boca Juniors for a world record $7.6 million in 1982. But he hardly was a legendwhen that fateful World Cup rolled around in ‘86. He’d escaped the slums of suburban Buenos Aires andwon a couple of South American player of the year awards, one Argentine league title and a FIFA World Youth Championship. But he’d struggled with injuries and chemistry at Barcelona and hadn’t yet lifted Napoli to glory. No one expected or demanded a title when La Albiceleste arrived in Mexico. At 25, he wasn’t chasing immortality.

Messi was playing under a different sort of pressure here in Brazil and he rose to the occasion during the group stage. He scored in the opener versus Bosnia-Herzegovina, beat Iran with a stoppage-time goal then tallied twice against Nigeria. Messi then turned playmaker, setting up Ángel di María’s gorgeous game-winner in the round-of-16 matchup with Switzerland.

But as the tournament wore on and the opponents got tougher, Messi’s impact waned.Under manager Alejandro Sabella, Argentina has focused first on defense, starting with goalkeeper Sergio Romero and inspired by midfielder Javier Mascherano, who remains the squad’s soul if not its captain. Argentina’s soccer is far from the rhythmic, high-pressure, possession-based sort that Messi enjoys at Barcelona. Argentina had only 40 percent of the ball on Sunday, a statistic that might cause a riot at the Camp Nou.

Brazil Falls Short, but its World Cup Provides Unforgettable Theater

Messi’s contributions in the knockout rounds were intermittent and tactical. Set up to stymie Argentina’s primary threat, opponents made sacrifices in the attack. Games tightened up and scoring chances were at a premium. Sabella oftendeployed Messi in a deeper position. Hemight find the ball a bit easier there, but he was further from goal once he had it. In the semifinal against the Netherlands, Messi was shadowed effectively by Nigel De Jong and then Jordy Clasie.

On Sunday, he started behind one forward rather than two but still had lots of ground to cover when the ball came his way. And there were significant stretches when it didn’t. None of his four shots was on target, he was late arriving on a couple of counterattacks and he saw two promising first-half crosses cleared from danger after runs down the right. Messi’s best chance came in the 46th, but his left-footed shot whizzed across the face of the German net and past the far post.

Sabella refused to respond directly to a post-game question concerning Messi’s fitness, saying that he thought his captain had an “extraordinary” tournament and deserved the Golden Ball award handed by FIFA to the World Cup’s top player. Indeed, Messi led the competition in scoring chances created (21) heading into the final, a testament to his skill and efficiency. But that’s hardly a statistic they’ll be singing from the stadium terraces in Buenos Aires, and the glum look on Messi’s face as he accepted that trophy was clear indication that his dream had been dashed.

He described it in Saturday’s Facebook post.

“My dreams and my hopes are being fulfilled due to the hard work and sacrifice of a team that has given everything from match one,” he wrote. “We want to win, and we are ready.”

2018 World Cup odds: United States 33/1 to win tournament

He could have made it easier for the public and the pundits by scoring a couple goals on Sunday and carrying the more important hardware back to Buenos Aires. There’d be a three-way tie for GOAT. But it already was pretty simple for Messi, who’s famously shy and the polar opposite of the outspoken, effervescent Maradona. He doesn’t play for the history or the trappings. He’s been known to sulk when benched at Barcelona, which can happen during a game that’s out of hand or meaningless. He simply wants to be on the field.

“The only thing that matters is playing. I have enjoyed it since I was a little boy and I still try to do that every time I go out onto a pitch. I always say that when I no longer enjoy it or it’s no longer fun to play, then I won’t do it anymore. I do it because I love it and that’s all I care about,” he told ESPN’s E:60 in an interview prior to the World Cup. “I want to be world champion but not to change the perception of others towards me or to achieve greatness like they say, but rather to reach the goal with my national team, and to add a World Cup to my list of titles.”

Some Argentines feared his loyalty lay with Barcelona, or even Spain, where he moved at 13. His goalless 2010 World Cup (when Maradona was the coach) didn’t help. Messi suffered from a growth hormone deficiency as a child, and his family was unable to find an Argentine club willing to pay for his treatment, which cost more than $10,000 per year. The Catalans offered, so he left. He owes Argentina nothing but has continued to profess his love for his country. He’s already been capped more than Maradona and still has years left to play.

“I believe he’s in that pantheon. But he was there before,” Sabella said Sunday. “He’s been there for quite a while already, in the pantheon of the big ones.”

Germany coach Joachim Löw said he told substitute striker Mario Götze during the brief break before extra time, “Show the world that you’re better than Messi and that you can decide the World Cup.” Götze decided it, scoring the game’s only goal on a brilliant volley in the 113th minute.

Germany’s World Cup Title a Result of Revamped Development, Identity

But no one believes he’s better than Messi. He’ll never come close. Lifting theWorld Cup is about far more than a given shot, a single game or the bounces during a month-long tournament. Champions are forged in the long term through persistent work at the grassroots and league levelsand a focus on culture and player development.

Löw said Sunday that Germany’s route to the trophy started in 2004, the year he and Jurgen Klinsmann took over Die Mannschaft and Messi made his senior pro debut. The talent and depth on display in Rio was a decade in the making. As Germany accepted the trophy, Götze held up the jersey of injured winger Marco Reus, who many considered the team’s most dangerous player.He missed the tournament. Götze was a substitute. The man who passed him the ball, Andre Schürrle, also was a reserve. He’d relieved Christoph Kramer, who was the replacement for late scratch Sami Khedira. Messi has nowhere near that reservoir of talent with which to work. His silver medal is the reflection of a whole lot more than his (in)ability to master the moment.

Messi will move on. The next game will be the most important of his life. His legacy may be murky for some, but that’s the fun of sports. Those who want to debate it can do so. Those who are happy to let it go and are able to relax — or sit on the edge of their seat — and enjoy the remaining years of one of soccer’s most transcendent, exciting careers alsocan do so.

Messi will keep on motoring.

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

Watch Every World Cup Goal in 1 Minute

TIME

QUIZ: How World Cup-Obsessed Were You?

Test your recall of the 2014 tourney's most pivotal moments.

 

TIME Baseball

Baseball Tips Its Cap to Derek Jeter in Farewell Video

Teammates, rivals, and fans both celebrity and local join in

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New York Yankees veteran Derek Jeter, who has announced that he’ll retire after the current season, earns a lot of respect in a new commercial from Jordan Brand, the Nike subsidiary that has endorsed him since 1999.

As Jeter gets ready to bat, he notices that he’s being saluted by the opposing pitcher, fans in the crowd, famous people in the crowd (including Spike Lee), New York City cops and firefighters, rappers Jay Z and Action Bronson, athletes Carmelo Anthony and Tiger Woods, begrudging players on rival teams, and, eventually, Michael Jordan himself.

This is Nike’s farewell to a player who’s been celebrated for his character both on and off the field for two decades. It will air during Tuesday’s All-Star game, which will be Jeter’s 14th, and last.

TIME Exercise/Fitness

Athletes Should Not Play With Head Injuries, Say Doctors

Christoph Kramer of Germany receives a medical treatment during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Final match between Germany and Argentina on July 13, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro.
Christoph Kramer of Germany receives a medical treatment during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Final match between Germany and Argentina on July 13, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro. Shaun Botterill—FIFA/Getty Images

Germany’s decision to let midfield Christof Kramer keep playing in the World Cup final yesterday after being slammed in the head was understandable—if this were 1962, anyway. Back then, a little concussion wasn’t seen as much of a big deal.

That’s not true anymore, and given the fact that everyone from kids’ coaches to the NFL (if grudgingly) recognize that even mild head injuries can have serious consequences, that decision looks close to insane—especially given that Kramer “looked as if he was on another planet and had to be helped off the field,” as TIME’s Bill Saporito observed.

Of course, it’s possible that the German team didn’t realize that this sort of thing can cause permanent brain damage. Or maybe they think that what applies to American football is irrelevant to real football. Except that studies have shown that soccer players are equally at risk.

Clearly, they didn’t read the editorial in The Lancet Neurology published the day before the game reminding coaches and team officials that “cerebral concussion is the most common form of sports-related traumatic brain injury (TBI), and the long-term effects of repeated concussions may include dementia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and other neurological disorders.” The decision to let players continue in a game, wrote these learned medical experts, should be made solely by doctors.

It turns out that FIFA doesn’t have any clear rules about what to do in case a player suffers an apparent concussion. But the fact that Kramer stayed in the game, no matter how important a World Cup final match might be, was at best highly questionable. “I can’t remember very much but it doesn’t matter now,” the dazed player reportedly said after the game was over.

If the medical professionals are right about how serious concussions can be, Kramer and his teammates might well have a different take on things a few years down the road.

TIME Sports

Local TV Station Outrages World Cup Fans by Interrupting the Final Game With a Weather Report

No one cares about thunderstorms right now, you dummies!

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With six minutes to go in the final game of the World Cup, viewers in southern New York and parts of northern Pennsylvania got really angry. No, not because their team of choice missed a great opportunity to score or because their favorite player got hurt, but because a local TV station interrupted the game to provide a weather report.

The weather coverage from ABC affiliated WENY lasted for the remaining minutes of the game, Deadspin reports.

Naturally, fans were, uh, less than pleased. Many took to Twitter to express their unhappiness and even sling threats at the station.

(h/t Deadspin)

TIME

Reports: Luiz Scolari Out as Brazil Coach After World Cup Loss at Home

Brazil's coach Luiz Felipe Scolari watches his team during their 2014 World Cup third-place playoff against the Netherlands at the Brasilia national stadium in Brasilia
Brazil's coach Luiz Felipe Scolari watches his team during their 2014 World Cup third-place playoff against the Netherlands at the Brasilia national stadium in Brasilia July 12, 2014. Dominic Ebenbichler—Reuters

Reports in the Brazilian media are rife with news that the local football confederation has decided to drop Luiz Felipe Scolari as Brazil's head coach

SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazilian media say the local football confederation has decided to drop Luiz Felipe Scolari as Brazil head coach.

Globo TV and other news outlets said early Monday that Scolari will not remain as coach after the national team’s failure to win the World Cup at home.

Scolari said Saturday after Brazil’s 3-0 loss to the Netherlands in the third-place match that he was handing over the team’s command and that it would be up to the Brazil confederation to decide whether he would continue.

Globo said the confederation’s official announcement would be made later Monday.

Delfim Peixoto, elected as a confederation vice presidents for 2015, confirmed the information to the UOL web news portal, saying he was told by top officials that Scolari will not stay as coach.

TIME World Cup

Germany’s Moment of Brilliance

Mario Goetze of Germany holds the World Cup trophy after winning the FIFA World Cup 2014 final soccer match between Germany and Argentina at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro on July 13, 2014.
Mario Goetze of Germany holds the World Cup trophy after winning the FIFA World Cup 2014 final soccer match between Germany and Argentina at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro on July 13, 2014. Action Press/Zuma Press

Late goal by Mario Götze lifts team over Argentina

It was always going to take a moment of brilliance or breakdown to decide the World Cup final between Argentina and Germany, clearly the two best teams in the tournament, both tactically watertight from beginning to end. That brilliant moment would come in the second period of extra time, at 122:22, when German substitute Mario Götze ghosted behind Argentina’s central defender Martín Demichelis to collect a cross from André Schürrle — a substitute for a substitute — and direct the ball into the net for a 1-0 German win. It was Germany’s fourth World Cup title, its first since 1990, and ample reward for a team that had been rebuilding for this moment since 2000. Watch out, world, there could be more to come.

There would be no magic moment from Argentine star Lionel Messi, the four-time world player of the year who had hoped to make this his ultimate trophy and raise his profile to equal that of Diego Maradona’s, Argentina’s soccer deity. But Messi could only drag the ball wide on the two best occasions he was in on goal. And his last-gasp free kick floated miles over the bar as time ran out. A disappointing game without question for such a great player.

There was never any question that Argentina was going to defend deep and in numbers against a German team that routinely pulled opponents apart with its passing and swift counterattacks. Safety first is never a bad idea, particularly in a final and Argentina went 450 minutes without surrendering a goal. The idea was to defend with six or eight players and then have Messi run at the bigger but slower German defenders.

It could have worked. And it nearly did. Three times in the first half Messi unlocked the German defense with one pass, affording opportunities for Ezequiel Lavezzi and Gonzalo Higuaín to run on to. Higuaín even put the ball in the net in the 30th minute from a Messi-to-Lavezzi combination, but he foolishly charged ahead of the play and the goal was called back for offside. “The soccer gods gave them a bunch a gifts, which they squandered,” noted ESPN analyst Alexi Lalas. None was bigger than the one presented by German midfielder Toni Kroos, who put Higuaín alone on goal with a badly timed back pass. But Higuaín sliced the ball wide off his right foot, and Argentina’s best chance of the half went begging.

Germany would produce a great opportunity of its own at the stroke of halftime when Benedikt Höwedes slammed a header off a corner kick against goalkeeper Sergio Romero’s left post. The ricochet bounced off of Thomas Müller, but he was in an offside position. Danger avoided.

The game was full of intrigue even before it started, with Germany’s starting midfielder Sami Khedira pulling up lame in the warm-up. German coach Joachim Löw chose Christoph Kramer, who had played all of 12 minutes in the tournament, to replace him. In the biggest game of his life, Kramer would last 31 minutes, of which he was fully conscious for maybe 25. After taking a blow to the head from the shoulder of Ezequiel Garay, Kramer appeared wobbly but returned to the pitch — FIFA doesn’t have much in the way of a concussion protocol. Minutes later, Kramer looked as if he was on another planet and had to be helped off the field, to be replaced by Schürrle. For Argentina, its fleet winger Ángel di María, didn’t recover from a thigh injury, which surely changed the team’s tactical thinking.

Although Germany had come closest to scoring, Argentina had been the more dangerous side for the first 45. And Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella tried to increase the danger by withdrawing Lavezzi and introducing Kun Agüero at the half. Within two minutes, Messi had a golden opportunity with the ball on his favored left foot, but his chance for glory would go harmlessly wide. And in the 74th minute, running right to left, he unleashed another bending shot that also went wide.

As the game progressed, the space began closing down, and in the 88th minute, Löw brought Götze on for Miroslav Klose, who closed out his German career admirably. Argentina would once again have a chance to win the game in the 97th, when sub Rodrigo Palacio settled under a pass into the box, only to misplay it momentarily and then rush a lob wide of Manuel Neuer’s net.

Argentina’s moment had gone by. And Germany’s was about to present itself.

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