BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Local businesses are on their own fiscal cliff thanks to the hockey lockout.
On an average game day, people go out to eat, maybe have a few drinks, pay for parking, and stay in hotels. The business of hockey isn't just about the ice.
Since the NHL lockout began in mid-September, businesses that rely on hockey night have been getting hit hard. At Chef's on Seneca Street, the noontime taste for pasta is steady. But owner Lou Billittier says without the Sabres playing on the home ice, it hurts.
"It's hurt us tremendously," Billittier said. "I'll bet you we're down about 15 percent. It's been quite a cut. And it's caused us to cut back on things we like to do as well. In the community and charities and stuff."
The economic loss from no hometown hockey impacts restaurants, hotels and parking lots around the First Niagara Center and beyond.
Mayor Byron Brown said, "We're at a great time in Buffalo where there is a lot of business activity. But still it doesn't make up for the hockey season not being played right now. It's a major concern."
At the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library on Friday, the U.S. Small Business Administration held a workshop on how to survive the lockout. District Director Franklin Sciortino says there are resources available for business owners feeling the pinch.
"We can offer them all types of counseling. We have all our counselors are here. We can offer them our regular loan programs that we have," Sciortino said.
It's estimated the NHL lockout had cost the Buffalo economy nearly $2 million in lost hotel revenues alone.
Sen. Tim Kennedy said, "It is the owners and the players that have failed to do the right thing by the community and Buffalo, western New York and throughout the United States and Canada by not negotiating in good faith."
Rep. Brian Higgins added, "This a math problem. Split the difference. Get back to work, and get that aspect of the economy moving again."
With no end in sight to the lockout, the new year may not be so happy for businesses that depend on hockey-related revenue. They can only hope for a resolution that involves an end to the labor dispute.
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