What the NFL Draft is costing Cleveland

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Under a contract with the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, the city is seeking nearly $ 400,000 for police and tens of thousands more for other services

CLEVELAND – For soccer fans, the NFL draft is all about choice and players.

For Cleveland citizens, it’s all about visibility and visitors.

The design from Thursday in Cleveland follows nearly two years of planning and promises unparalleled fan fun and an economic slump of $ 100 million or more. The event may be the closest Cleveland to hosting a Super Bowl (we would need an indoor stadium or better weather).

“It’s going to be incredibly cool for the tens of thousands of people who will be here, locals and towers,” said David Gilbert, CEO of the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, which is instrumental in bringing the NFL draft here. “We’re being watched by 50 million viewers across the country. You will see Cleveland differently than before.”

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The NFL draft has been growing every year since the league moved it from New York in 2015. Cities are bidding against each other to host the event, and Cleveland’s pitch was accepted in 2019, despite a previous proposal by Cleveland that included a partnership with Canton-home – the Pro Football Hall of Fame – failed.

The pandemic wiped out last year’s NFL draft spectacle for fans in Las Vegas and threatened to limit Cleveland’s experience until a few months ago. But declining COVID-19 cases and the easing of health restrictions in Ohio opened up more opportunities. Cleveland’s event space along the lake, from FirstEnergy Stadium to North Coast Harbor and south to public shopping malls, also provides ample open space for fans to spread out.

“It’s not elbow to elbow as far as the eye can see,” Gilbert told 3News during a recent tour of the website. “But because we have such a large footprint, there will be a lot of people. In fact, we are very lucky because we have such a large footprint. It allows a lot of people to be here and do a blueprint.” Experience a part where people can flow into more than half a million square feet of outdoor space. “

What it costs the city

This party’s price tag is in the millions, although a breakdown of the exact cost is difficult to come up with. The NFL will not disclose what it will spend on hosting the event, which will be televised in front of more than 45 million people.

The Sports Commission and the community pledged to cover between $ 5.5 million and $ 6 million. While this was largely raised through private donations, it includes public dollars and in-kind contributions, Gilbert says.

“We don’t write an NFL check,” he said. “It’s all things that the community offers. Rent … security and marketing and signage and a lot of different things. I didn’t see it [the NFL’s] Pay, but it’s tens of millions of dollars the NFL spends on its production. “

A copy of the agreement between the Sports Commission and the City of Cleveland, which 3News received upon request for public records, provides an insight into local costs. (You can read it below.) Cleveland allows the NFL to use the harbor and malls for free, but the city is asking tens of thousands of dollars from the Sports Commission for adding barricades and using parking. In addition, the document states that the commission should reimburse the city’s parks and roads department for nearly $ 77,000. In an email from City Hall to 3News, that number was updated and estimated at just over $ 100,000.

The contract states that Cleveland is seeking reimbursement of an estimated $ 400,000 for police and security related issues. It also details how the Commission must replace trees that have been cut down to make room for the stage.

Last year the city spent $ 1 million demolishing two old warehouses that it planned to remove for future development to open up the lakefront. The Sports Commission says the NFL Draft, next year’s NBA All-Star Game, and other one-off events make such investments worthwhile.

“These events combined mean new direct spending for the city of between $ 200 million and $ 400 million,” said Gilbert.

Gilbert said the commission started a fundraiser called “Velocity” several years ago to raise funds – approximately $ 15 million – from private sources to cover the cost of hosting the Major League Baseball All-Star game 2019, the 2022 NBA All-Star Game. the NFL draft and the NCAA Women’s Final Four in 2024. He said the campaign was about 10% behind its target.

Sports economists often question economic impact projections, arguing that boosters and their studies don’t keep track of real costs to taxpayers, track expenses that end up in out-of-town businesses like hotel chains, or account for money that’s already spent here on entertainment would have been.

“My rule of thumb: take the number the commission study or sponsorship event gives you and move the decimal point to the left by one, and that’s pretty close,” said Allen Sanderson, an economist at the University of Chicago. “Is it an advantage? Yes. Is it a great advantage? No.”

Sanderson said he had studied the economic impact of the NFL draft in Chicago and other sporting events across the country.

“Not that many people stay in hotels for the NFL draft,” he said. “If I get to Cleveland and stay at the Sheraton and spend a few hundred dollars on a hotel room, not much of that two hundred dollars will stay in Cleveland. I can swipe my credit card there, but it actually leaves Cleveland.” right away.”

Gilbert said the sports commission is carefully scrutinizing direct spending and focusing on out-of-towers spending money here.

“Look, I would tell you that someone who comes in from Mansfield matters to us,” he said. “This is not money that would have been in Cuyahoga County, for example. But yeah, every local doesn’t count, and that doesn’t include multipliers. We’re also talking about the trickle effect of dollars on us, what we count is direct spending.”

Gilbert said the commission hired a consultant to investigate the impact.

“We’re having a third-party research study done, but it looks very promising compared to what we thought possible a few months ago,” he said.