Remember when New Jersey’s senators tried to end the lockout with a joint letter to the NHL and NHLPA? Another senator has jumped into the lockout mess, but he’s not trying to end things.
Senator Sherrod Brown, a Democrat representing Ohio, sent a letter to the U.S Small Business Association urging them to help the city of Columbus recoup losses after the league cancelled the 2013 All-Star Game. In his letter, he relates to Administrator Karen Mills that businesses in the city are suffering because of the lack of hockey:
The Columbus Blue Jackets bring together individuals from Ohio, the United States, and Canada to cheer for their favorite hockey teams at the Nationwide Arena. Small businesses in Columbus count on NHL fans to support their stores and restaurants each winter. The cancelled games have already caused financial stress on retailers – from stores that sell team merchandise to restaurants that serve fans before and after games — and the uncertainty of the rest of the season looms large for these businesses.
Furthermore, the NHL has cancelled the 2013 All-Star Game, which was set to take place in Columbus this coming January. The Greater Columbus Sports Commission estimates that the cancelled event will cost the city $12 million in lost revenue, which would have been spent on lodging, restaurants, shopping, transportation, and attractions in the region.
This appeal is a very good thing. Quite a few of those businesses are located in the Arena District surrounding Nationwide Arena, and some of them have already reduced employee hours and even let some employees go due to the decrease in revenue. They desperately need relief.
Here’s an interesting plot twist: Senator Brown is not a hockey fan. He admitted to the Columbus Dispatch that he’s a fan of Cleveland sports (oh Senator, you disappoint me) and has only been to four hockey games in his lifetime. His motivation for the letter was to help the community after this economic hammer fell, and it’s also his motivation in helping Columbus win back the 2015 All-Star Game. He plans to work with the Blue Jackets organization and the Greater Columbus Sports Commission to make that happen.
Senator Brown expects to hear from the SBA fairly soon. If help comes, the loss of this huge event won’t sting so much. If it works for Columbus, maybe other senators should look into appealing for relief for struggling businesses in hockey cities. It certainly couldn’t hurt.