A few weeks ago, the Detroit Tigers advanced to the World Series, thus shining a spotlight upon the cities of Detroit and San Francisco. The local economic impact felt by both cities was massive. People looking for last-minute hotel rooms were out of luck. Restaurants and bars were standing room only, as were the games. In simple terms, the cities were packed!
Usually the end of baseball season signals the time for me to tune into the NHL and my favorite team, the Red Wings. Not this season. As of right now, NHL arenas throughout the league are empty, aside from the occasional concert, circus, or in some cases, NBA games.
For the second time in eight years, there are no NHL games being played because the league is on strike. As was the case in 2004-05, the league’s collective bargaining agreement (CBA) ended and the NHL Players’ Association and owners were unable to agree on terms of a new CBA. As a result, NHL fans are left out in the cold until the two sides come to an agreement.
I don’t want this to turn into a full-fledged rant, but bear with me for just a second. Where does the league get off thinking it can cancel hockey for an extended period of time for the second time in less than a decade? The 2004-05 lockout wiped out the entire season. It marked the first time a major professional sports league in North America canceled a complete season because of a labor dispute. What really irks me is that the NHL is already the least popular of the four major sports in the U.S., behind the NFL, MLB, and NBA (not necessarily in that order). Can it really afford to fall even further behind?
OK, I’m done ranting. Obviously as a fan, I’m not happy with the lockout. If you think I’m unhappy, can you imagine how unhappy bar and restaurant owners are who depend on NHL games to draw customers to their establishments?
Think about it. When you attend a sporting event, how often do you show up 20 minutes before the game starts and then leave as soon as the game ends? I certainly don’t fit into that category of people, and I assume most people are with me. I make a day (or at least a night) out of it. Whether it’s tailgating before a game or going out to a restaurant or bar for dinner and drinks, the point is that I’m spending money locally. After the game, I usually stick around and head to the casino for a couple hours or meet up with friends at a local establishment and – you guessed it – spend more money.
When you add it all up, I probably spend close to $100 on just myself, and that’s not including money I take to the casino. Once you consider the price of a ticket, gas to get to the arena, parking and food/drinks, you’re looking at a pretty big chunk of change.
Most NHL arenas can fit close to 20,000 spectators. Obviously not everyone has the time to go out to dinner and hang out around the city before and after the game. However, just simply attending a game brings money into the cities. How much money am I talking about? Take a look.
According to The Boston Business Journal, each home game the Boston Bruins don’t play costs the city approximately $800,000 to $1 million. The Philadelphia Inquirer believes Philadelphia loses close to the same amount for each game not played by the Flyers.
In Detroit, a non-played Red Wings game in Detroit costs the city between $1.5 million and $1.9 million, according to The Detroit Free Press. There are 82 regular season games with each team playing 41 home games. You do the math. That’s a whole lot of money lost.
Perhaps what’s most disappointing of this whole mess (especially for Detroit fans) is the Winter Classic recently fell victim to the lockout. Beginning in 2008, the Winter Classic has been a staple of the regular season. Played primarily on New Year’s Day, the main selling point is the game is played outdoors, either at an MLB park or NFL stadium. The games are wildly popular, prompting fans to spend playoff-like money for regular season tickets.
There will be no Winter Classic on New Year’s Day of 2013. The Red Wings were scheduled to host the Toronto Maple Leafs in a matchup of Original Six teams at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. As part of the event, Comerica Park was also scheduled to host nine outdoor games in the week leading up to the main event. Not anymore.
Even if the NHL Players’ Association and owners come to an agreement for the remainder of the regular season, one thing is for certain: there will be no Winter Classic. What does that mean for Ann Arbor and Detroit?
According to Ann Arbor.com, the cancellation will cost the city $15 million. In Detroit, the number is even higher. A report from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation estimates the Detroit economy could lose as much as $50 million in revenue.
In short, no hockey means a lot less money for both Detroit and Ann Arbor. The fans and local economies are getting the short end of the stick here, don’t you agree?
What are your thoughts on the NHL lockout? With no NHL games to attend, are you spending your money elsewhere? Let us know in the comments section below!