Bar owners hope Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup run makes up for lockout losses
MITCH DUDEK AND DAVID ROEDER Staff Reporters June 9, 2013 8:24PM
“I’d love for the series to go seven games if I knew the Hawks were going to win,” said Danny Shapiro, owner of the Third Rail Tavern, about a mile east of the United Center. “But I don’t think anything’s going to make up for the games we missed.” | Mitch Dudek~Sun-Times
Updated: July 11, 2013 6:41AM
The Blackhawks deep post-season run to the Stanley Cup is helping to offset the hit that United Center neighborhood bars took when the NHL lockout snuffed out nearly half the season.
The Hawks usually play 41 home games a year. But because of the abbreviated season, they hosted only 24 this year.
That put a dent in the bottom line that has been hammered out by thirsty fans who have packed the United Center and watering holes along Madison Street for 10 playoff games so far. The team could play four more games at home if the upcoming Stanley Cup finals series against the Boston Bruins goes seven games.
“I’d love for the series to go seven games if I knew the Hawks were going to win,” said Danny Shapiro, owner of the Third Rail Tavern, about a mile east of the United Center. “But I don’t think anything’s going to make up for the games we missed.”
Down the road, Chris Wortendyke, manager of the Beer Bistro, concurred: “Seven games would be great, but not on my nerves.”
The first half of the season offers a shallow-end-of-the swimming pool experience for new fans.
“You can’t hear the cheers like outside Wrigley, but you see the fans in their gear, the flags, the jerseys and you hear Hawk talk. It highlights the neighborhood and builds momentum,” Shapiro said.
Taverns saw revenue fall as much as 25 percent during the lockout. But home playoff games are especially lucrative, bringing in up to 50 percent more cash a night than regular season games, several bar managers said.
Dave Neuhauser, owner of CrossRoads Bar and Grill, thinks he’ll make up for the lockout losses.
“Playoff crowds are huge compared to regular-season crowds,” he said.
But the Hawks post-season success doesn’t necessarily rub off on businesses without ties to the franchise.
From an economist’s perspective, the net gain for the region is negligible. The theory is that it’s all discretionary income anyway and that if the Hawks weren’t in the playoffs, fans instead would be spending the cash at the mall, the movies, the bowling alley, anyplace else.
“You have a lot of places that will see a slight decline in business because of the Blackhawks,” said Allen Sanderson, senior lecturer in economics the University of Chicago.
The cheering crowds at a particular pub, are a lot more apparent and photogenic for media looking to follow fan reactions.
In the Hawks’ case, Sanderson said, their economic impact also is muted because their supporters are almost entirely local; they’d be spending money here anyway.
The case would be different if the Chicago Cubs produced a serious winner, he said, because the Cubs attract a large out-of-town clientele.
As an economic driver, the Cubs are in a class by themselves among the sports teams, Sanderson said, followed by the White Sox and Bears. After that, there’s a dropoff until you get to the Bulls, and another dropoff before you reach the Blackhawks. Don’t even ask about soccer.
“You could look at any of the teams, and they still would be classified as a small business. They don’t employ that many people,” Sanderson said.