Freakonomics Asks What's More Valuable to Cleveland: Chrysler or LeBron?

Not that it's an either-or proposition, but Ian Ayres of Freakonomics wonders whether the city of Cleveland is better off with a new DaimlerChrysler plant or Lebron James playing for the Cavaliers.

[I]f Ohio is willing to give business incentives, financial incentives, and tax incentives to encourage companies to move to Ohio, why not consider kicking in financially to try to keep one of the state’s prize assets. Turn LeBron into his very own “enterprise zone.”

In 2004, Ohio invested $535 million to expand a DaimlerChrysler Jeep facility in Toledo. But seriously, don’t you think the average voter would prefer to invest in LBJ?


Ayres doesn't really discuss how much money James generates for the city—through perpetually sold-out home games, crazy merchandising, high ratings for locally televised games, and jobs created along the way. He does, however, offer rather fascinating insight on the business of super-stardom and the specter of what Cleveland has to lose during this period of NBA free agency.

Photo (cc) by Flickr user Keith Allison