Why He’s Interesting: Taking center court as one of the NBA’s youngest chief executives, Nic Barlage, who oversees the Cavaliers, Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse and Rock Entertainment Group, is bringing fresh ideas to a Cavaliers team primed to enter an exciting new era with Donovan Mitchell, Evan Mobley and a young group of star players. With a community-minded approach to building the brand around the team, he has his sights set on reigniting Cleveland basketball and other businesses, downtown and beyond.
Humble beginnings: Despite having 172 resume submissions go unanswered during his senior year at St. John’s University in his home state of Minnesota, Barlage resolved to pursue his passion for sports. “I’m a firm believer that everything you go through in life, you can grow from and become bigger and better because of it. When you see a challenge, don’t look at it for the challenge that it is but for the opportunity it creates.”
One for All: Whether interning for a summer baseball league in small-town Minnesota or rising through the NBA’s business ranks in Charlotte, Phoenix and Cleveland, Barlage has always loved how sports can unite a city. “I think what sports teams can do is build a sense of pride, belonging and momentum attitudinally within our community, and experientially through what we provide in our venues. We’ve got a long way to go, and that’s what we’re excited about.”
Crisis management: Barlage is proud of how the renovated Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, which re-opened in September 2019 during his stint as the Cavaliers' president of business operations, served downtown through its navigation of the COVID-19 pandemic. “When we transformed the FieldHouse, we found out that we were one of the largest drivers of economic activity in Cuyahoga County and Northeast Ohio. To be able to bring tens of thousands of people downtown for a Cavs game 41 nights per year, and to fill the restaurants and hotels, and to host concerts, we feel that’s our role and responsibility.”
Big Swing: NBA legends he’d most like to join golfing: Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and David Stern.