Anyone who lives in the Cleveland area and most people around the country that have not been living in a hole the last six years knows that Lebron James has incredible power in the community. Anyone who is alive in the last two years knows that the economy sucks. What some people may not realize is that it is possible that Lebron may not only be solely responsible for the answer of the question "If the Cleveland economy rebounds," but he may also determine when!
As part of the solution to the problems that the city has had in the past, um, 25 years, the voters in Ohio passed Issue 3 on Tuesday which will allow exactly one casino to be built in Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland and Toledo. Lebron is about to be a free agent in the summer of 2010 and the owner of the the Cavaliers is Dan Gilbert, who happens to own a large business that is responsible for various things in the gaming industry. His group will undoubtedly be behind any construction of a casino in Cleveland.
Gilbert would like plans for a casino to be approved as soon as possible. When will that likely be? The Summer of 2010. Can we also agree that people that approve such things in cities are not known to be the most outstanding human beings?
Where is this going? Well, Dan Gilbert will be blamed if Lebron happens to leave the city of Cleveland this summer even though he really has no say on whether he will leave or not. All the Cavaliers can do is offer the max contract allowed, which, due to the Larry Bird rule, is a year longer and 10% richer than any other team can offer. He can't do anything else. He cannot promote Cleveland as a city because it is crap now. All he can do is offer the contract.
If Lebron stays, everyone is happy. If he leaves, Gilbert will be blamed and we can be sure that the casino plans will start to see random road blocks in the development. I would guess that if Lebron leaves, it is possible that Cleveland will not see a supposed economy-saving casino for at least a year longer than if he signs with Cleveland. Therefore, Lebron has even more control over the city than anyone could have possibly imagined.