The iconic Billy Joel returned to Quicken Loans Arena on Tuesday — 20 years after opening the then-Gund Arena. The Piano Man played the first-ever show at the brand-new downtown facility on Oct. 17, 1994.
To commemorate the return of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, a dressing room at The Q was dedicated as the “Billy Joel Star Room.” A plaque with the following inscription will permanently hang on the wall outside the room:
“Dedicated to the legendary performer forever tied to the history of Quicken Loans Arena; Setting the stage for world-class entertainment in Downtown Cleveland. Opening Night concert, October 17, 1994.”
“Billy Joel kicked off the first 20 years and we are excited to welcome him back to help rock us into the next 20! It’s hard to believe the arena and Gateway are 20 years old this year. Over that time, we have seen the landscape of our neighborhood transform dramatically,” said Len Komoroski, CEO of the Cavaliers and Quicken Loans Arena. “Today, and as we look into the future, vibrant developments and an ever-growing hospitality industry surround the arena, creating a synergy that helps make Cleveland a desirable stop for the biggest concerts and shows, as well as special events that bring the regional, national and international spotlight on our city."
In the 20 years since Joel opened the arena, The Q has become a primary destination for premier sports and entertainment in downtown Cleveland, hosting over 4,000 events and over 40 million visitors in that time. Since the arena’s opening in 1994, the world’s top-drawing concerts, NCAA national championships and other national and international caliber sports and entertainment acts have played The Q, which has served a catalytic role in stimulating over $700 million in development around the growing Gateway neighborhood and adjacent areas.
In the early 1990s, prior to the opening of Gund Arena and Jacobs Field, the area now known as Gateway had virtually no hotels or residents and only a handful of restaurants. The development impact in Gateway and surrounding area that has resulted from the addition of two premier sports and entertainment facilities is palpable. Today, the area boasts vibrant East 4th Street and Horseshoe Casino, and the Gateway District is home to five hotels, 15 residential buildings and 60 restaurants and eateries, with more of each in the works. There are also close to 1,000 apartments in the Gateway area alone that are near full occupancy, with many more future tenants waiting to make the move downtown.
Although still early in 2014, there are already major events scheduled for The Q later this year and for years to come, including the Gay Games Opening Ceremony in August, NCAA Men’s Basketball Regional Championship in 2015 and the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championship in 2018. Also in 2014, mega touring acts such as Cher, Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars and Katy Perry will make stops at The Q, in addition to the games of arena tenants Cleveland Cavaliers, Lake Erie Monsters and Cleveland Gladiators. The arena is also home to the annual NCAA Mid-American Conference basketball tournament and numerous major family shows such as Disney on Ice, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and the Harlem Globetrotters; plus WWE, monster truck shows and a variety of other events.