While the city crumbled from the loss of manufacturing jobs in America, Cleveland invested its love and money into sports stadiums.In a long piece for ESPN that tries to pull at Cleveland’s emotional strings, Wright Thompson notes that in the face of high unemployment, poverty, and declining infrastructure the city spent billions on what amounts to a band-aid; it built brand new stadiums for the Browns, Cavs, and Indians (and a sparkling Rock and Roll Hall of Fame).
Sure, the construction provided a short-term demand for the very manufacturing jobs the city was losing. But unlike new street lights, street cars, gas-powered cars, x-rays, and traffic lights – all of which originated in Cleveland, according to Thompson – stadium construction only provides jobs for the months it takes to build them. They disappear quickly.
The point of Thompson’s piece, of course, is to demonstrate just how much LeBron, and his ultimate departure, meant to Cleveland. The city wistfully invested in sports, but its greatest sports hero wouldn’t do the same for the city.
It’s a cold reminder that sports is a business. Too often, developing an emotional attachment yields more consequences than it does rewards.
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