CLEVELAND, Ohio (GlossyNews) — The 10-story billboard of LeBron James that dominates Ontario Street in downtown Cleveland is being removed by the Nike company, which had sponsored the huge mural. According to a Nike spokesman, “We are removing the LeBron James Witness mural in downtown Cleveland and expect the process to be completed within a few days.”
City officials have said they will replace the mural with an image of what they termed, “a real hometown Cleveland hero, Tom Hanks.”
The new mural was slated to show Hanks as Capt. John Miller in a still image from the movie Saving Private Ryan.
“Tom Hanks is an American hero representing the greatest generation that won World War II,” said Wesley Craven, chairman of the Cleveland Now! Outdoor Advertising Association and former assistant vice comptroller of Cleveland Rocks the Bicentennial. Craven made his comments when the decision to replace James was originally announced on Saturday, July 10.
City officials subsequently discovered that Hanks was born in Concord, California, and had no formal connection to Cleveland. In a second announcement officials named a new choice for the 10-story mural: sculptor and industrial designer Viktor Schreckengost.
“Viktor Schreckengost is beloved in Cleveland,” said Greg Morris, special assistant to Cleveland deputy Mayor Dorothy Dandridge. “We’re convinced a mural devoted to Schreckengost will have far greater drawing power than the LeBron mural. Viktor Schreckengost designed the first cab-over truck for White Motors and he designed some dinnerware, too, I think. As I understand it, Mr. James just plays basketball and has done very little industrial design.”
Morris refused to comment on reports that due to budget constraints, the Schreckengost mural would be reduced in size from 10-stories to 3/5ths of a story and relocated to the Cleveland municipal bus station auxiliary parking lot.