UPDATED, October 20, 9:43 a.m.: As LeBron James kicks off his first season as a Los Angeles Laker, bar and restaurant owners in Downtown Los Angeles are hoping to begin a new era for their businesses.
Business owners in the surrounding neighborhoods abutting the Staples Center are hoping for the so-called “LeBron effect” — a boost in business thanks to increased interest in the famous basketball player — to take shape as the NBA star puts on his shiny purple-and-gold jersey, Downtown News reported.
Some bars, such as Prank, will even serve LeBron-inspired cocktails. Another will place a caricature of James on its wall. Others will offer special deals for those who come bearing jerseys.
Hopeful owners look to Cleveland as an example. James is credited for bringing a highly-welcomed boost to Cleveland’s economy with bars, restaurants and other shops nearby the arena experiencing a surge in business during his 11-year stint as a Cavalier.
But the effects in L.A. might not be as drastic as Cleveland, some warn. Unlike Cleveland, Lakers games already tend to have a high attendance rate regardless of how they are performing.
That said, some online ticket resellers are already noticing a change. StubHub.com has seen average ticket prices for Lakers jump as much as 430 percent since LeBron announced he was joining.
“There are only a handful of athletes in the world who can make an impact on ticket demand like LeBron can,” StubHub’s general manager Scott Jablonski told the Downtown News in a statement.
James has also been a boon to Brentwood’s luxury real estate market, picking up not one, but two, homes for more than $20 million since 2015.
He paid $21 million for a 9,450-square-foot custom-built pad in November 2015. He then fueled rumors of a potential move to the Lakers when he picked up another manse in the neighborhood for $23 million in December 2017. [DN] — Natalie Hoberman
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article stated that LeBron James would play his first game as a Los Angeles Laker on Sunday. He in fact played his first game on the team Thursday.