The Utica Shale and LeBron James are unintentionally teaming up to inject life into Ohio’s struggling economy. James announced the return to his hometown of Cleveland on July 11, 2014 – just days after Ohio state officials said natural gas production nearly doubled in 2013. Here’s what the two giants are bringing to the Ohio economy:


  • Production. James has finished no worse than fourth in the NBA in points per game every year since the 2004-05 season. His current career point per game average of 27.5 ranks third all-time. His 36 career triple doubles lead all active players. The next closest? Kobe Bryant, who has 19.
  • Jobs. The Cleveland Cavaliers may need to boost its work force, because the crowds are coming. In his first tenure in Cleveland, Quicken Loans Arena averaged 95.4% of capacity from 2004 to 2009. Following his departure, attendance dropped to an average of 84.7%. Assuming LeBron plays in front of a capacity crowd each game in Cleveland (every game was sold out during his time in Miami, for what it’s worth) and assuming the average Cavaliers ticket price of $43.31 in 2014, the team stands to make an additional $140,000 per game in ticket sales alone. And that doesn’t take into account the potential perks of merchandising, beer sales, etc.
  • Self-reliance. Since we’re on the topic of merchandising, it’s worth noting LeBron’s jersey sales have finished in the top ten every year since he joined the NBA, including being the top seller each of the last two seasons. A three-peat is not out of the question, considering Cleveland burned every LeBron jersey in sight after he decided to take his talents to South Beach in 2010.
  • Future development. The Cavaliers averaged a record of 24-58 without King James in the last four seasons. One the plus side, the team landed several #1 draft picks in the midst of its mediocrity. The team, somehow, may start as many four players drafted first overall for opening night in 2014. Forbes estimated LeBron single-handedly adds $100 million in value to a franchise.

Oil & Gas:

  • Production. Ohio’s natural gas production in 2013 increased by 97% compared to 2012. Similarly, oil production increased 62% in the same time period.
  • Jobs. Ohio officials reported 5,700 jobs were created in turn with the rise in production in 2013 alone. Initial estimates in 2011 believed the oil and gas industry could add as many as 40,000 jobs over the course of its lifetime.
  • Self-reliance. A representative of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources said Ohio’s increased flow now provides the state with 50% of its natural gas needs. By the end of 2015, the state will “probably produce enough gas to meet (home heating needs),” said Richard J. Simmers, chief of ODNR’s Division of Oil and Gas Resources.
  • Future development. An estimated 1,500 permits will be granted in 2014 and 2015. Oil and gas companies have committed $6 billion to regional development in the past two years, a JobsOhio representative said.

No word yet if nearby oil companies plan on bidding for naming rights on Cleveland’s arena, a course followed in Oklahoma City by Chesapeake Energy (ticker: CHK).

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