AKRON, OH (WOIO) - Crews are working all night in the University of Akron's InfoCision Stadium to prepare for Friday's royal homecoming. More than 25,000 fans are expected to pack the arena.
When LeBron James announced he would return home to the Cleveland Cavaliers and northeast Ohio, the city of Akron started making plans to welcome him back.
Less than two weeks ago, city officials asked Mark Cheplowitz to produce the event. His company, "Wizard of Ahs," has produced numerous events, including "Dazzle the District,"the lighting of the chandelier in Playhouse Square and the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony. They were actually in the middle of working three other shows at the time, but feel they're ready to pull off this monumental event.
"It's a show that has a lot of moving parts. It hadn't been fully developed yet, and so it required a lot of time, a lot of thinking, and fortunately, there were a lot of time, a lot of folks who really stepped up and made this a lot easier than I thought," said Cheplowitz.
Cheplowitz says it will be a homecoming to remember for the thousands of fans cheering on their hometown hero.
"This is tremendous. It's exciting. This is very contemporary. This is right now," he said. "I hope he likes what we do!"
Although sworn to secrecy about the event's plans, Cheplowitz revealed more than 40 special crews are on hand, including tech support, to make sure everything runs smoothly. He also revealed the mayor of Akron will be in attendance.
As for the guest of honor? Cheplowitz said, "It's an honor to work for LeBron James and his people, and it's certainly a privilege to work for the families and the I PROMISE mission."
The University of Akron is in charge of security for the sold out event.
The party starts at 7:15 p.m. Friday. Seats are on a first-come, first-served basis, so guests are encouraged to arrive early. Gates open at 6:15 p.m.
Food and concessions will be open for guests. The usual stadium restrictions will be in place, including prohibited items: signs, alcohol, bottles, coolers, Frisbees, umbrellas, weapons, fireworks, outside food and beverages, clothing with offensive language, and bags larger than 10"x10"x12".
Most campus lots will be open for free parking, but Cheplowitz encourages guests to park further away and walk to the stadium.
Some parking lots around the stadium will close at 11 p.m. including: 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, 13 and Vine Street.
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