The National Hockey League is locking out more than players in its most serious labor impasse since the cancellation of the entire 2004-05 season. Small businesses are bound to suffer as well. Restaurants, bars, and shops near NHL arenas are bracing for a massive loss in revenue. The Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates that fans at a Bruins home game spend between $850,000 to $1 million at businesses near TD Garden. Erica Tibert, manager of Boston Beer Works on Canal Street, told the Globe, “The Bruins are our best crowd. Losing those games will lose us the best fan base.”
These considerations, unfortunately, seem far from the thoughts of owners and players as they fight over revenues in a sport that brought in $3.3 billion last season. The players had been receiving 57 percent of revenues. Owners want to drive that percentage below 50 percent. As the two sides argue, both have options. The owners can simply sit on their hands, saving money on their payroll expenses. Star players can make “pocket change” by playing in Europe, as more than half of NHL players did in the lost season eight years ago.
But the businesses tied to home games lack that flexibility. If the squabbling millionaires and billionaires of the NHL stepped back to consider the plight of those who depend on them, they might come to their senses to forge an agreement that keeps everyone employed.