For more than a decade, many of us have resented our No. 1 tourist attraction because its annual induction ceremony is in New York City. In December, Rock Hall officials tried to shoo away the angry cloud hanging over North Coast Harbor: Cleveland will host the induction in March 2009 and probably every three years after. The press conference quickly became a battle between Cleveland resentment and Cleveland optimism.
Mayor Frank Jackson, representing civic boosterism, declared that attracting the induction “speaks to the love affair we have with the form of art of rock ’n’ roll.” City council president Martin Sweeney represented wounded pride: “The city of Cleveland is getting the respect it deserves on the worldwide stage!” Reporters represented resentment. “Why three years, not every year?” demanded WKYC’s Mike O’Mara, doing his best Joe Cleveland imitation.
Rock Hall Foundation CEO Joel Peresman politely replied that the induction ceremony — the foundation’s only fundraiser — depends on the New York-based music industry for support.
“Athletes who are multimillionaires can find their way to Cooperstown,” O’Mara argued. “Millionaire stars ...”
Peresman cut him off. “We’re talking about the corporations that have supported the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame from the beginning. ... It’s not a question of getting the artists here. It’s such an honor for them. They’ll be there.”
Bringing the induction back to Cleveland regularly depends on the event’s financial success, said Rock Hall CEO Terry Stewart.“No guarantees, but let’s make 2009 work, and it’ll be here in 2012.”
Jackson chimed in: “I’m saying to you, it is guaranteed. We intend to make this work.”