LeBron James Will Bring the Heat to Miami NightlifeAugust 19, 2010 By: Sean Evans
Ever since LeBron James broke Cleveland’s heart and disappointed New Yorkers with his announcement that he signed with the Miami Heat, South Beach has been overjoyed with the notion of having the biggest NBA star calling their city home. The effects of having the king of the hardwood as a new resident likely will be widespread across all industries but perhaps most noticeable in Miami’s robust nightlife scene, particularly due to James’ penchant for nightclubs and partying.
“The whole town is going to come alive for home games,” says Nicola Siervo, owner of hotspot Wall at the W Hotel. “I think the numbers we’ll see in our venue will be going up big time.” And the clubs won’t just be packed with locals rejoicing in a victory. “Young Hollywood will flock to Miami just to see LeBron,” says Justin Levine, a partner in the Opium Group, which runs Mokai, Louis, Mansion, Set, Cameo and more. “We’re going to see celebrities like Rihanna and Jay-Z flying in for the games, which is something they’ve never done before. Jet-set A-listers are preparing on coming to Miami multiple weekends during the year, just so they can go to the games.”
So how will the influx of famous faces vying to sit courtside help bolster Miami’s nightlife? “It’s going to be a package deal for the celebrities,” says Dave Grutman, operating partner of LIV nightclub at Fontainebleau. “Every celebrity is going to want not only a seat, but a night out after. We’ll reach out and make sure they’re getting a table in our venue post-game. Once people hear a celeb is in LIV, even if it’s not LeBron, they’ll come in droves. And if LeBron is actually in the house, the spending is going to shoot through the roof. Miami’s nightlife market should go up at least 20 percent during the Heat’s season, especially toward playoff time.”
As for getting the big man himself into venues, it shouldn’t be much of an expended effort. “LeBron is a big party guy. He’s been in town and gone out every night of the week in the past,” says Grutman. “I don’t know if he’ll be out all the time now because I’m sure they’ll put some serious clamps on him. Currently, we get Dwayne Wade coming into LIV almost every Sunday he can. So I’m sure LeBron will roll with Dwyane one night.” Interestingly, James hasn’t been out in Miami once since he signed. “He’s waiting for his big ‘coming to Miami party,’” Grutman says.
When James is in the club, management can demand higher table minimums for bottle service. “Price for a table is based on demand, so if there’s a higher demand, our minimums will absolutely go up,” Levine says. “If you know LeBron’s going to be there, you could have a bidding war between a bunch of guys who just want to sit next to him, driving the minimum for a table up astronomically.” Echoed Grutman, “If you can afford a decent floor seat at a Heat game, you can afford to buy a table out afterwards.”
Not surprisingly, all the owners are using the recent announcement of the Heat’s home schedule to plan special marketing programs and packages for big spenders accordingly, and to best ascertain when LeBron may be coming through their doors. “Chris Bosh was in Wall the day he came to Miami,” Siervo says. “He had dinner at Mr Chow, then came over. Dwyane Wade has been in several times, and LeBron has eaten in our restaurant, Quattro, so these guys aren’t strangers to our brands or to us. We’re confident they’ll be spending a fair amount of time out in our spaces.”
The key to getting King James into a venue seems to be to let it happen organically. “I have six clubs on Miami Beach. We take care of Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O’Neal and every other big NBA name down here,” Levine says. “But I’m not going to chase after them. And we’re not going to see LeBron in the same space every night. There’ll be a piece of this for everyone. I’m not going to promise free liquor and a free Rolls Royce to get LeBron in the door. It’ll be business as usual.”