Mo Regnier has invested a year of his time and more dollars than he’ll specify on his company’s plans to build tours around the NHL’s 2013 Winter Classic, which pits the Maple Leafs against the Detroit Red Wings in a cavernous football stadium at the University of Michigan on New Year’s Day.
Regnier’s company, Great Adventure Tours, bought more than 1,000 tickets to the game, reserved hotel rooms in Detroit, Windsor and Ann Arbor, Mich. to accommodate the flood of customers he expected the Winter Classic tour to attract.
While economists insist a prolonged work stoppage won’t dent the economies of cities with NHL teams, individual businesses that depend on NHL games will definitely suffer if the season is canceled or delayed.
“There’s no question that the strike looming is affecting plans,” says Regnier, a resident of Tecumseh, a suburb of Windsor. “It’s extremely frustrating. It affects the average person, not just the business person, and it’ll take months if not a year to get all the fans back.”
Earlier this week, Bauer CEO Kevin Davis told the Star the hockey equipment manufacturer doesn’t expect business to slow during a lockout, and says Bauer’s sales actually increased during the lockout that canceled the NHL’s 2004-2005 season.
But broadcasters like TSN, CBC and Sportsnet have paid hundreds of millions of dollars for NHL broadcast rights and will have to scramble to re-arrange hockey-heavy schedules.
“Networks will definitely be the big losers,” says McMaster University economics professor Hannah Holmes. “Teams, too. They depend on broadcast revenue. Will (small businesses) get hit? Yes. But the really big (losses), you’re really going to see at the top of the hierarchy.”
Economists acknowledge a work stoppage will alter spending and hiring patterns in cities with NHL teams — restaurants near arenas won’t see as much traffic, while game-day staff will remain idle. Last autumn the Toronto Parking Authority estimated the city-owned parking lot across from the Air Canada Centre lost $ 6000 in revenue for ever Raptors game cancelled during the NBA lockout.
“Leisure money is leisure money and people tend to spend it,” says Mario Lefebvre of the Conference Board of Canada. “People are going to go to the movies, go see a play, do other things they normally wouldn’t do.
Canceling the season allows Regnier to recoup some of the money he has already spent. But starting the season in late November means scrambling to fill the remaining spots in his tour, and exposes him to even bigger losses.