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Hockey lockout leaves bars near United Center thirsting for fans

Crossroads Bar   Grill 1120 W. MadisSt. one several taverns along MadisSt. near United Center thhave been affected by

Crossroads Bar & Grill, 1120 W. Madison St., one of several taverns along Madison St. near the United Center, that have been affected by the NHL lockout. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times

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Updated: January 26, 2013 6:08AM

For several taverns along Madison Street near the United Center, Blackhawks fans are like those drinking bird toys that continuously dip their beaks in liquid.

But the Hawks have migrated because the NHL lockout, and their thirsty fans are staying away — causing a 25 percent tumble in the bottom lines of bars along the resurgent West Loop corridor.

“Hawks fans just like to drink . . . more so than Bulls fans,” said Greg Mammoser, manager of CrossRoads tavern.

Mammoser said his bar has a capacity crowd for every regular season home game.

“It’s just a big bummer, we’ve had to lay off people,” he said.

An increase in concerts at the United Center since the lockout began has helped fill the gap, but not nearly enough.

“I’m following news on the lockout negotiations, but we’re really thinking there won’t be a season at his point.”

Down the street, Chris Wortendyke, manager of the Beer Bistro, was equally depressed. Revenue is down 20 to 25 percent, he said.

“I imagine that’s the same for everyone in the neighborhood,” he said.

Many of the taverns on Madison Street just east of the United Center did not exist when the last NHL lockout canceled the entire 2004-05 season. Attendance at home Blackhawks games back then was near the league’s worst, according to ESPN statistics.

In sharp contrast, Chicago has topped the NHL in home attendance numbers for the last four seasons, bringing loads of fans to neighborhood bars. Negotiations between NHL players and owners continue.

League officials have indicated there is a mid-January point-of-no return deadline by which a deal must be done to save the season.

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