NHL lockout may bring local layoffs - KMSP-TV

NHL lockout may bring local layoffs

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Now that the first two weeks of the NHL season have been canceled and the owners and players are still at odds on how to split up $3 billion in revenue, local businesses are looking at their bottom lines and considering layoffs.

Many bars and restaurants along West 7th Street in St. Paul depend on the foot traffic near the Xcel Energy Center, but there won't be flocks of fans in the area for at least two weeks now that the first five games the Minnesota Wild had scheduled have been canceled.

For the second time in seven years, the only way hockey fans can see NHL action is through re-runs -- and many fans are fuming because this was supposed to be a great year for the Wild, but there's a lot more at stake than just a lost season of entertainment in St. Paul.

"You cannot underestimate 18,000 people 45 times a year on a downtown economy," said Joe Campbell, spokesman for St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman.

Campbell said of those thousands of fans, each spends between $50 and $75 per home game. That means the city would lose about $300,000 in sales tax revenue on about $60 million in sales at local businesses.

Bars and restaurants are already feeling the pressure. Zambonis Pizza and Pub is one of the new kids on that block. On the day after his business turned just a year old, Owner Greg Awada told FOX 9 News a quarter of his business is directly related to what's going on at the Xcel Energy Center.

"I'm afraid to find out what happens," he said. "This year expects play deep in the playoffs with the two fellas we brought in."

Losing the Wild means losing a lot of money, and that means tough decisions may have to be made.

"I've already made plans to cut hours, and I may have to lose a quarter of my staff if it doesn't resume soon," Awada admitted.

If 2012 becomes a repeat of 2004, there will be a lot more losers than winners. The players say they want to play and talk, but little has been done over the past couple of days to resolve the lockout dispute beyond a few quick meetings. If no agreement is met by Oct. 13, the players will miss their first paychecks.

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