With a little more than a month until the 2014-2015 NBA season tips off, the LeBron Effect is being felt well beyond the basketball court. Across the board, the Cleveland Cavaliers are seeing unprecedented boosts to business since 10-time NBA All-Star LeBron James announced he's bringing his talents back to his hometown.
"The appetite for Cavs anything has grown exponentially," Cleveland Cavs CEO Len Komoroski told CNBC, adding that his team is working on giving fans as much connection as possible to the four-time MVP.
The Cavs' season-ticket allotment of 12,000 seats sold out by 10 p.m. on July 11—less than half a day after James told Sports Illustrated, "I'm Coming Home."
The Cavs are working to give as many fans as possible an opportunity to buy 50,000 remaining home-game tickets. The team plans a monthly lottery process with registration beginning on Friday. Fans can enter the lottery for the right to purchase up to six tickets for a game that month.
Despite the surge in demand, Komoroski said the Cavs did not raise season-ticket prices, and the average price for individual game tickets remains the same as the top-tier games from last season.
"We have been very conscious to treat our fans with the same degree of respect and integrity as when we were in our rebuilding mode," he said.
Prices Up in Cleveland, Down in Miami
In the secondary ticket market, however, prices are rising across the board. At Stubhub, Cleveland Cavalier transactions are up 4,150 percent year over year, with an average ticket price of $184—almost $100 more than last season. Meanwhile, King James' former team, the Miami Heat, is seeing the opposite effect: Ticket prices there have fallen about $15 from last year.
On TiqIQ, the current average price for a Cavs game is $421, the highest price in the NBA and more than a 250 percent increase since the beginning of last year.
The Cavs say they have seen a rapid rise on the digital front as well. Traffic to Cavs.com spiked 505 percent, video streams are up 1,010 percent, page views are up 405 percent and unique visitors are up 365 percent, year over year.
Tickets aside, fans are scooping up LeBron merchandise as well. Team merchandise site Fanatics said James has been the top-selling NBA player on the site since the end of July. The top-selling team apparel this year is—you guessed it—the Cleveland Cavs.
The Cavaliers' all-time leading scorer's return has experts predicting James could bring a windfall to Cleveland itself, which has been pummeled economically for decades by the decline of manufacturing in the area.
LeRoy Brooks, an economist at John Carroll University in Cleveland, estimated that the economic impact for the city to be between $350 million and $500 million in spending on hotels, restaurants, parking, taxes and other revenue.