AKRON — Turns out there will be a LeBron James party after all — and 30,000 free tickets to it were gobbled up in hours Monday.
The city of Akron and the LeBron James Family Foundation will hold a Welcome Home LeBron Community Rally on Aug. 8 at the University of Akron’s InfoCision Stadium.
In a July 11 essay as told to Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins that announced the 29-year-old James was signing with the Cavaliers, the four-time league MVP said, “I’m not having a press conference or a party. After this, it’s time to get to work.”
The community rally will be held from 7:15-9 p.m. Doors will open at 6:15. Tickets were free, with some fans waiting more than an hour on Ticketmaster to get them in blocks of six. They became available at 10 a.m. Monday and were gone by early afternoon.
“Due to the overwhelming demand for tickets to the community event marking LeBron James’ return to his hometown, all available tickets sold out within hours of their release,” a press release from the city of Akron said. “The City of Akron wants to thank everyone for (their) enthusiastic support for what is sure to be a memorable event!”
James is scheduled to speak at the event and hold a brief session with the media, LeBron James Family Foundation spokesperson Stephanie Rosa said.
The rally will be preceded by the third annual Wheels for Education program, which will run from 6-7 p.m. that day. That event is closed to the public.
The events are part of the “Promise Project Week” sponsored by the LeBron James Family Foundation.
James spent the first seven years of his NBA career with the Cavs and led them to the 2007 NBA Finals, where Cleveland was swept by San Antonio. The 6-foot-8, 250-pounder then left for Miami, where he led the Heat to four straight finals appearances and two titles.
James is now back with the Cavs, having signed a two-year contract that includes a player option after the first season.
“Before anyone ever cared where I would play basketball, I was a kid from Northeast Ohio,” the Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary High graduate said in the July 11 essay. “It’s where I walked. It’s where I ran. It’s where I cried. It’s where I bled. It holds a special place in my heart.
“People there have seen me grow up. I sometimes feel like I’m their son. Their passion can be overwhelming. But it drives me. I want to give them hope when I can. I want to inspire them when I can. My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball. I didn’t realize that four years ago. I do now.”