Usher Joins New Owners At Gund

Detroit mortgage magnate Dan Gilbert is the new principal owner of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers and will take over operating rights to the team’s home, Gund Arena.

R&B superstar Usher and Quicken Loans VP David Katzman are members of the ownership team that paid $375 million to former majority owner Gordon Gund, who is keeping at least a 10 percent stake. Gilbert reportedly plans to change the name of the venue as soon as this summer.

At a March 1st press conference, Gilbert said Usher would help make the 20,000-seat Gund Arena “one of the area’s premier entertainment facilities.” The singer will play a role in utilizing the venue for concerts and other events.

Usher said he wants to “turn this thing up a notch if we can,” adding, “I look for Cleveland to be my home away from home.”

He joins Nelly and Jay-Z in adding his name and clout to an NBA team. Nelly owns part of the expansion Charlotte Bobcats and Jay-Z has a stake in the New Jersey Nets.

The mixture of basketball and hip-hop is providing the potential for tremendous crossover marketing.

“The NBA really wants to understand how they can stay relevant to the young consumer and all three of these artists have figured out how to do that,” said Paul Swangard of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon.

The Cavaliers have wasted no time using Usher in their promotions, showing off “Yeah!” banners and making his tune of the same name their unofficial theme song.