Indians' World Series run turns Cleveland into "Believeland"

CLEVELAND -- Politics will be on hold in Cleveland Tuesday night as the Indians face the Cubs in Game 6. The Indians could win it all tonight -- or lose it all tomorrow. But the city is on a winning streak. 

Cleveland fans have adopted a new nickname for their oft-maligned hometown: Believeland. But it wasn’t always so.

Announcer Tom Hamilton is the voice of the Indians.

To sum up the past five decades for sports fans here: “A lot of frustration,” Hamilton says. “A lot of broken hearts. And a lot of championships that seem to be lost in almost historical fashion.”

With the Indians possibly on the verge of the city’s second championship in a year, Cleveland appears to have put its painful past behind it. But this resurrection isn’t just happening in the realm of sports. Not so long ago, this city was down for the count.

In the late 1970s, Cleveland  became the first major city to default on its financial obligations since the Great Depression. Cleveland became the poster child for the declining Rust Belt.

Richie Piiparinen teaches Population Dynamics  at Cleveland State University.

“We rose with industry and we died with industry,” Piiparinen says. “Psychically, we lost our identity.”

To save itself, the city was reborn as a world class center of medicine. Downtown now beckons with clean streets, stores and restaurants.

There’s still a tough struggle ahead, but as when its basketball team was down 3-1 in the finals, or its baseball team was dismissed as unlikely to even reach the World Series yet again, the City of Cleveland looked into the abyss.

And staged the ultimate comeback.