Opinion: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame hates Cleveland



Jody Michael

Jody Michael

Jody Michael is a sophomore broadcast journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

Do Clevelanders love having the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? I ask because the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame definitely hates Cleveland. History provides ample evidence.

The hall of fame originated in 1983 before even finding a home. A search committee looked at several cities, including Memphis, Cincinnati, New York and Cleveland.

Cleveland went full throttle in its campaign to get the museum. It ultimately won because it offered the most money — $65 million — though everyone prefers saying it was because Cleveland disc jockey Alan Freed coined the term “rock and roll.” Please. Money talks.

Having visited the museum, it disappointed me. Whoever designed it wasted way too much time and money on fancy architecture; it needs to be much bigger.

The cafeteria is a joke for a museum that sells two-day passes and encourages visitors to spend entire days there. Also, Greater Cleveland residents get just a $4 admission discount, and it has nowhere near enough temporary exhibits to give locals reason to return.

This is plenty to justify disappointment in the museum. But were Rock Hall officials happy about choosing Cleveland in the first place? They seem bitter New York never offered similar funding.

Organizers still hold the annual induction ceremony in New York. It’s like if LeBron James were still a Cavalier but had season tickets to Yankee Stadium. Cleveland mayor Frank Jackson worked tirelessly just to get the induction here for one year, in 2009.

Still, Rock Hall President Terry Stewart only promised it would return to Cleveland again in 2012 if the 2009 ceremony was a success, and it was. The first one was open to the public, and it drew 5,000 raucous fans to Public Hall. Nonetheless, 2010’s and Monday night’s ceremonies stayed in New York. At least the ceremony rehearsal was open to the public this year — if you had $3,500 to buy a ticket. Too steep? Access to just the pre-ceremony cocktail party and awards dinner only cost $2,000.

The Rock Hall even opened a New York annex in 2008. At this announcement, co-founder Jann Wenner showed his true colors by stating, “One of the small sad things is we didn’t do it in New York in the first place.” It’s like if your spouse openly regretted not marrying a high school sweetheart.

The New York annex lasted 13 months before closing. A $26 admission price (compared to $22 for the actual museum) was one reason. What the Rock Hall fails to realize, though, is that in New York it will never be a big attraction. It cannot compare to the hundreds of historical landmarks already in that city.

In Cleveland, the Rock Hall can be the face of the city. Much like Detroit is the Motor City, we can have a City of Rock and Roll. But to be successful in Cleveland, put both feet in. Since you are here, you might as well get along with us.