As NHL lockout drags on, businesses around TD Garden and elsewhere in the region are hurting
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As the National Hockey League lockout slogs on with no resolution in sight, bars and restaurants around TD Garden keep losing revenue — as much as $1 million for every Bruins game that’s canceled, according to the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau.
But the business impact of the Bruins’ forced hiatus — all league games have been canceled through Jan. 14 — extends beyond the restaurant industry and Causeway Street. From the lots where fans park their cars on game nights to youth leagues where their children play and the shops where they buy equipment and memorabilia, the NHL’s third work stoppage in 19 seasons is taking a toll that mounts with each passing day.
Stanhope Garage Inc., which operates three small parking lots near the Garden, typically takes in $6,000 per game by filling all of its 200 spaces, said owner Simon Gottlieb. Over the course of a season, the take from Bruins games alone approaches $250,000. But on the 22 days so far when a home game has been canceled, demand for parking in Stanhope lots has slowed to a trickle.
“We’re not getting the revenue we used to get,” said Gottlieb. “Special-event parking is big for us.”
Lost parking revenue is probably greater for Delaware North Cos., Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs’s food service company, which in June signed a 75-year, $116 million lease for the North Station Garage underneath the Garden. During a full hockey season, the garage would generate $1.6 million in parking revenue from Bruins games, enough to cover the average annual cost of leasing it from the MBTA.
But when the Bruins are not playing, the 1,150-space garage is far from full, said T spokesman Joe Pesaturo.
“It was never really a commuter lot because people come to North Station on trains,” Pesaturo said. “It was always event-driven.”
Delaware North declined to provide revenue figures for the garage, but acknowledged revenue is closely tied to Garden events, including Bruins games. Pesaturo noted that the T has not suffered from the lockout because Delaware North has already paid $50 million to the MBTA under a lease agreement that is not contingent on whether hockey is being played.
Getting non-hockey events to replace Bruins home games has proven difficult because the NHL cancels contests with only a few weeks’ notice. Corporate sponsors have used the Garden for small gatherings on dates when the Bruins would have played. Volunteers for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign set up shop on the parquet floor on Election Day – when the Bruins were supposed to host the Minnesota Wild – but no major replacement events have been scheduled, said Tricia McCorkle, a spokeswoman for Delaware North, which owns the Garden. During the last NHL lockout, in 2004-05, Garden officials booked only one big substitute, a Mötley Crüe concert.
Without Bruins games to attend or watch on television, interest in playing hockey is fading among the team’s youngest fans, said Kevin Kavanaugh, executive director of Massachusetts Hockey, the state affiliate of the USA Hockey program. Kavanaugh called the NHL a “huge marketing arm for youth hockey” that drives children to sign up for local leagues.
Over the past five years, statewide participation in youth hockey has increased by 21 percent among children 8 years old and younger, to more than 14,000 players. The Bruins’ 2011 Stanley Cup win, especially, gave a big boost to youth hockey.
But the lockout is stunting the growth spurt, Kavanaugh said.
“We will definitely feel the effect in registrations at the end of the year, especially in the younger age groups,” Kavanaugh said. “We’d be naive to think there won’t be a decline, and that’s tough because they’re the building blocks for the future.”
Diminished enthusiasm for hockey also has hurt businesses that trade on it. At Andover Hockey Shop in Andover, sales are down slightly this season, according to owner Chris Gravell.
“People are still buying the stuff they need, but not the extra stuff,” Gravell said.
“Kids used to clamor for mini-sticks or merchandise for whatever team is hot, but not so much [now]. The Bruins stuff I have is not going as quickly as it used to.”
The market for hockey memorabilia, where Bruins items are among the most popular, also has been touched by the lockout, said Sean Mahoney, executive vice president of Steiner Sports Marketing & Memorabilia in New Rochelle, N.Y.
“On the collectibles side, some fans are down on hockey and not spending money,” Mahoney said. But, he added, “there are others who are spending more because they’re not going to games, so they have more to spend on collectibles.”Continued...