In one of the most hardcore hockey cities in the National Hockey League, Toronto sports bars owners will soon feel the lockout’s ripple effect.
Not only does the NHL lockout affect its players and owners, it will also hurt revenue at Toronto’s restaurants and bars, where the game drives their business.
Hurricane Roadhouse, located on Bloor Street West, will receive a heavy hit from the league’s work stoppage because they are a renown Leafs bar.
“Hockey is definitely a draw,” owner Ross Serpa told the Toronto Observer in a phone interview. “We will lose maybe 20 per cent of business for sure, maybe even more during the day when the Leafs’ games would’ve been playing.”
Kent Epp, who is the owner of the Firkin Pub on King Street, also said that not being able to show Leafs games on television will force them to lose money.
“When hockey season starts, we go up about 15 to 20 per cent,” he said.
Serpa also mentioned that his restaurant took a huge revenue hit during the 2004-05 season when hockey was wiped out completely due to another lockout.
Hurricane Roadhouse held poker nights to draw crowds in order to make up for lost business that year, but it didn’t compare to the revenue the Leafs provided.
“It was a huge loss for our business and it really hurt us because hockey is a big part of it,” said Serpa. “So I’m very upset this [current lockout] is happening.”
Serpa said he may consider having more poker nights during this NHL hiatus. He will also push for NFL games on the weekends but is hoping to create other ideas to draw larger crowds.
The NHL locked its players out on Sept. 15 at midnight when the collective bargaining agreement expired.
The NHLPA and NHL started meetings in New York and Toronto in late July and early August in hopes to reach a new deal but as of now, the players and owners are no where near an agreement.
There was an initial proposal from the NHL was to cut players’ revenue share from 57 to 47 per cent with a proposed six-year deal.
This is the third lockout the NHL has endured in 18 years and Harbour Sports Bar and Grille manager Rachel Kilian said the lack of hockey is a letdown for her employees.
“It’s disappointing because my staff and everyone who works here looks forward to it [hockey] in September and October to cheer for their teams.”
Working in one of the most populated sports bars in Toronto, beverage manager of the Loose Moose Tap and Grill Diane Da Silva said her bar is heavily reliant on hockey games.
Since they are within walking distance from the two major sports venues, the Air Canada Centre and Rogers Centre, the restaurant draws a large crowd on game days before and after Leaf games.
“We are a very event driven place,” she said. “If the Rogers Centre and the ACC have no business, then we have no business.”