NHL Lockout Hurting Local Businesses

ST. LOUIS, MO. (KTVI) – As the stalemate continues between NHL players and the team owners, downtown St. Louis businesses that cater to Blues fans are fed up.

At Maggie O’Brien’s Irish Pub Thursday night, Madonna fans raised a glass while swaying to the Material Girl’s timeless tunes, thumping throughout the restaurant. It’s not the typical scene at this downtown staple for thirsty hockey fans. But now, employees depend on big-name downtown concerts, like Madonna’s Thursday night show, to get by.

Maggie O’Brien’s employee Christy Redfearn explains, “Normally, if it was a regular Thursday night we’d be absolutely dead, but this is a big draw for a lot of people, so we are a little bit busier.”

Still, she says business from these concert-goers doesn’t even come close to a normal Blues night, and the lack of business hurts. Redfearn explains, “It really has just kind of killed my bank account. It’s tough when you come in expecting to make a bunch of money, and you walk out with $20. That doesn’t really pay the bills, so I just really hope they get through this lockout quickly.”

Just down the street, Syberg’s is also feeling the sting.  Kevin Hoyer drives the now often-empty shuttle between Scottrade Center and Syberg’s. He says, “It’s a drastic pay cut for me, Syberg’s is being hurt, the Market Street location, because we hire more people to work, because we’re so busy.  It’s our best turnout; this place is wall to wall people.”

Redfearn doesn’t only miss these hockey fans for their wallets, but for the intangible excitement they bring, which these endless negotiations have now taken away.  She explains, “Blues fans are pretty crazy, and they all like to come out and have fun.  We miss them, we want them back.”

Employees worry that the lockout’s impact could go well beyond the lockout itself. Some say after the failed negotiations of 2005, it took several seasons for teams to build back their fan bases.