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The RNC is great for Cleveland business, but it’s not the Cavaliers

Donald Trump pins sold by vendor in Cleveland, Ohio during the Republican National Convention.
Fred Imbert | CNBC
Donald Trump pins sold by vendor in Cleveland, Ohio during the Republican National Convention.

CLEVELAND ― When this city was chosen as the host of the Republican National Convention, little did it know how much its fortune would change.

Just three days after Cleveland was named as the site of the RNC, hometown basketball hero LeBron James announced he'd return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014 after four years with the Miami Heat.

An even bigger surprise, James would lead the Cavs to their first ever NBA title just two years later. And local businesses in Cleveland have had a big boom since.

After the Cavs' Game 7 win against the Golden State Warriors, the city celebrated with a big victory parade which was attended by about 1 million people. That said, the RNC's boost to business is not expected to be as large, with just 50,000 expected to be in the city.

"I do think it's going to be a little bit less," said Tanya Gunya, co-owner of The Chocolate Bar, a restaurant outside the Quicken Loans Arena ― where the convention is being held.

Cleveland Cavaliers Lebron James celebrates with the crowd during a parade to celebrate winning the 2016 NBA Championship in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. June 22, 2016.
Aaron Josefczyk | Reuters
Cleveland Cavaliers Lebron James celebrates with the crowd during a parade to celebrate winning the 2016 NBA Championship in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. June 22, 2016.

Gunya said she "never anticipated" the amount of business she received after the Cavaliers won the championship, adding she expects a bump in business this week, but "not a spike."

Brendan Walton, owner of A.J. Rocco's, a restaurant and bar in downtown Cleveland, told CNBC on Monday "right now the basketball finals is surpassing, but it's only Day One."

"We were thinking it was going to be a little faster," he said. "Ultimately, I think folks over time, as they [go] to the more known areas, they start exploring more of Cleveland."

Michael Clark, district manager for Potbelly in Cleveland, said the company expects business to increase by at least 15 percent this week, however, "compared to the championship parade, we can't beat that. We were crushed that day."

The RNC will conclude Thursday, when Donald Trump is expected to officially become the Republican presidential nominee.