BUFFALO, NEW YORK - While the NHL lockout is a letdown for Sabres fans, it's a big kick in the gut to local employers who depend on the games.
With the lockout now pushing deep, through October 24th, a trickle-down effect has begun that's impacting the Sabres and everyone that relies on the team. Businesses are already making decisions to balance their bottom line and fear that serious cuts will be made if the lockout goes further.
"If this thing was to go long, then you're having some dramatic impacts," said Brian Drew, the general manager of Embassy Suites in Buffalo.
The hotel and conference center serves 24 of the 29 opposing NHL teams when they come to Buffalo. On Thursday, all of these franchises snapped their contracts with the hotel, thus, dropping their room and banquet reservations and their food and beverage needs. Drew thinks one area of the hotel will be hit the worst.
"It's the banquet space that you've held, you can't just book a meeting two weeks, three weeks out to fill that space and replace the revenues that are lost and I think that's the toughest part of this," he said.
Drew says that he's turned away business because he couldn't fill these rooms under contracts, which are now old. Another tough part is that fans will be missing out on seeing competitive teams, four in total, against the Penguins, Red Wings, Rangers and Devils. An Islanders game is away.
"We host almost every out-of-town team when they come to play here in Buffalo," said Marc Croce, a Buffalo entreprenuer, who employs more than 300 people at his franchise of Buffalo restaurants and lounges.
Many of them usually fill up because of Sabres action. Croce says he's shrinking hours for employees at those businesses to save money. He says staffing at downtown parking lots that he monitors unfortunately, also need to be cut, because if there's no event, there's no job.
"People that normally rely on those hours to feed their family, some of these people rely on that money to be able to sustain their livelihoods ... they don't have hours," he said.
Plus Erie County and the state suffer, because both won't be cashing in on needed revenue, like the 8.75 percent sales tax and local bed tax at hotels. The state would also suffer from not getting income and payroll taxes.
The answer to solve all this is to bring back hockey.
Local businesses say they really hope the lockout doesn't extend into the winter months, because that's when more people are drawn to Buffalo and to the game.
As for the Sabres, the team tells us that right now, they don't plan on laying off any staff.