Businesses near TD Garden are bracing for losses as a player lockout by the National Hockey League threatens at least the start of the Bruins season and the millions of dollars in related consumer spending.
“The Bruins are our best crowd,” said Erica Tibert, manager of Boston Beer Works on Canal Street. “Losing those games will lose us the best fan base, the best business, and kind of the whole atmosphere of the hockey season.”
Tibert declined to provide an estimate for the potential hit, but said the company will have to rely on private functions to make up the difference. Patrick Moscaritolo, president and chief executive of the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the group estimates that a combined $850,000 to $1 million in spending and revenue outside the Garden will be lost for each canceled game.
The bureau factors in spending on restaurants, travel, lodging, and other areas, as well as the taxes that those workers and consumers pay, to arrive at the tally.
“It isn’t just the players or the team owners that lose out when there’s a work stoppage,” Moscaritolo said. “It’s big business for the players, obviously . . . but it’s also big business and big paydays for the businesses that benefit from the spending.”
‘Most of the bars around here are based on the Bruins.’
Over the weekend, the NHL locked out its players when the collective bargaining agreement expired, amid a disagreement centering on the players’ share of revenue. The Bruins’ first preseason game was scheduled for Sept. 25 at Washington. The regular season had been scheduled to begin Oct. 11, with the first home game the following week against the Montreal Canadiens.
The entire 2004-2005 season was lost to a lockout.
Sheila Ptak, a server at Porters Bar and Grill on Portland Street, said the stoppage could be a major setback for local bars.
“I mean, most of the bars around here are based on the Bruins,” she said. “They’re more of a spending fan base than the Celtics.”
The NHL lockout comes on the heels of a work stoppage last fall by the National Basketball Association, which delayed the start of the Celtics season, squeezing service workers who depended on the season for extra money.
Moscaritolo said some economists would argue that consumers who typically open their wallets on game night will spend that money elsewhere, mitigating the impact on the local consumer economy as a whole. But, he said, that is small comfort to establishments near the Garden.
“Explain that to the owner of the [North End] restaurant who’s got his mortgage to pay and all his bills to pay,” he said.
Not every neighborhood restaurateur is on edge, though.
Sean Williams, co-owner of Lucca
“I personally have not planned anything, no,” Williams said. “But we’re fortunate, we’re pretty busy.”
The labor dispute also appears to be affecting merchandise sales, as well as fans’ spirits. Many of the items in the Boston Bruins Proshop at the Garden were marked down on Sunday afternoon while a handful of customers browsed.
“This went from $80 to $20,” said Jay Wordell, 20, of Harwich, who held up a jersey of Tim Thomas, the erstwhile Bruins goaltender. Prior to the lockout, Thomas had announced plans to skip the season, but other items were also discounted.
Wordell’s brother, Tom, 21, said he began regularly following the Bruins, who won the Stanley Cup in 2011, about two years ago and was crushed when he learned of the lockout.
“I found the news out and I wanted to cry, because I fell in love with hockey,” he said.
Tina Grant, 37, of Brewer, Maine, said her family often makes a four-hour trek to the Garden to attend games, and she was very disappointed by the news.
“We were hoping to go to a lot more games this year,” she said.
Anthony Notaro, 37, of Clinton, said he had never seen the store as sparsely attended as it was on Sunday, and he predicted image problems for the league if the labor impasse continues.
“I think the NHL is making a huge mistake,” he said. “They got all the fans back, and they’re going to lose them again.”