It is unquestionable that King James’ return to Cleveland gave the city and its citizens a reason to rock a little harder than usual this NBA season. While the true value of LeBron James’ homecoming is incalculable (current estimates are between $50 and $500 million), the Cleveland Cavaliers have shown the importance of being prepared when the best player in the world walks through your door.
In 2010, after signing the Big 3 and selling out home games for the season, the Miami Heat fired its entire sales staff. Jump to 2014. The Cleveland Cavaliers sign hometown hero LeBron James, All-Star forward Kevin Love and retain a rising superstar in Kyrie Irving.
In response to their newfound fortune, Cleveland retained and redirected the mission of their sales team, opted not to raise prices on tickets, beefed up their digital media and refocused their sponsorship division, as reported by SportsBusiness Journal.
Unlike the unfortunate souls in Miami, the Cavs sales team has not found themselves out of work once the tickets started selling themselves. Instead, their efforts are focused toward selling tickets for the Cavs’ various minor league franchise interests. The digital media department has added new mobile apps, installed a video screen that would make Jerry Jones blush, and installed a 3-D court projection system (I’m not even sure what that last one is).
Simply selling out of season tickets would make the Cavaliers money. The increase in national media exposure would equal millions in free organic PR. The additional playoff games alone equal additional revenue and exposure. But the Cavaliers were willing to make smart investments and not over or under react to their impending success.
It is true that many of the physical and digital upgrades were necessary to win the bid to host the 2016 Republican National Convention but sometimes we must give credit where credit is due, even if the recipient of said credit is the author of “The Letter” (not to be confused with “The Notebook”). Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, for all practical purposes, seems to be backing up his mantra, “Money and numbers follow, they don’t lead.”