After 113 days of frustration and slumping sales, small businesses that cater to local hockey fans are rejoicing over the end of the hockey lock-out. The NHL and players union reached a collective bargaining agreement and games are set to start as early as January 15.
"It's huge for us," said Mike Higgins, manager of the Blarney Rock Pub, a Rangers bar a block from Madison Square Garden that sees the number of patrons double on game nights. "Without hockey, we're — I would say — 20 to 25 percent down for the year."
As Rangers fans shift their dollars from other pursuits back to hockey, New York City as a whole will not see an economic bump, according to Allen Sanderson, a University of Chicago professor who studies sports economics. But the pubs, restaurants and shops near the arenas will get an immediate and sorely needed boost as 20,000 fans flood Midtown for games.
"It's a long time coming," said Jim Root, vice president of Cosby Sports, who expects some to hear some good-natured "griping" about the long lockout from returning fans.
The Ranger faithful make up 60 percent of sales at the store. Root said he expects sales to "triple or quadruple" as fans stream in to buy the jerseys of goalie Henrik Lundqvist, last year's phenom rookie Chris Kreider and everyone else on the roster.
"They're all popular," said Root. "One thing about the hockey players: They're all good guys in the community, so every fan has their favorite player."
Small businesses near the arenas on Long Island and in New Jersey will also see a bump.
Islanders’ fans who did not spend their money on tickets and in businesses around the Coliseum did not shift their money to other local businesses and events to the extent that Rangers fans did in New York City, according to Pearl Kamer, chief economist with the Long Island Association.
"The impact on Long Island would be even greater than in New York City, where you have a multitude of recreational events," she said.
In Newark, New Jersey, Brick City Bar and Grill has stayed afloat during the lockout by catering more private parties and corporate events, but the staff is looking forward to the coming Devils games, which will bring in tons of fans before, during and after the games.
"Hockey fans are full of energy," said Brick City general manager Bryan O'Hara. "It's just a good shot in the arm."