Word is that LeBron James is considering investing in a hotel, brand and location yet to be determined. Spokespeople for the Cleveland Cavaliers' superstar forward were seen talking to African-American lodging industry movers and shakers during the 11th annual NABHOOD convention in Atlanta in late July.
Since the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators & Developers was launched in 1998, its executives, particularly founder Andrew Ingraham and board chairman/St. Louis hotel developer Michael Roberts, have been trying to forge links between lodging and the cash-heavy world of professional African-American athletes and entertainers.
The first fruit of thisÃ¢€”after six years of tortuous negotiations involving the city of Norfolk, VA, Robert L. Johnson's RLJ Development and William Fuller's Fulco DevelopmentÃ¢€”is the $125-million Hilton Norfolk Hotel & Conference Center in Fuller's home town of Norfolk. Centerpiece of the complex, set to open at the end of 2009, is a 240-key, full-service Hilton. Fuller is a former defensive end for the Houston Oilers and Philadelphia Eagles.
James's people were networking with hundreds of other African-American hotel magnates and would-be magnates at Mike Roberts's Crowne Plaza in Marietta, GA.