Tis’ the season to be jolly… Not just because it’s the holiday season, but due to the fact the NBA lockout, which threatened to end the 2011-2012 season, is over. The cessation of NBA games has caused many, who depend on business from fan foot traffic, to inevitably lose their holiday spirit and try to strategize ways to recover from their losses.
While the season has been salvaged and will tip off this Christmas several entrepreneurs across the country have experienced a decrease in sales and attendance at their otherwise bustling bars and sports venues due to the inauspicious NBA lockout. Nonetheless, the 2011-2012 NBA season schedule has been announced and in addition to millions of fans, owners of restaurants, sports bars, and hotels, parking lot attendants, beer vendors, game night staff servers, ushers and countless more people whose income depends on the NBA’s action are elated at the news.
Peter Thomas, owner of the newly opened Bar One Lounge in Grant Park, Atlanta, GA and personality on Bravo’s Real Housewives of Atlanta, was certainly disappointed that the NBA season did not begin on time. Not new to the restaurant business, he shared how his business has experienced losses of about 15-20% as a result. “Atlanta is a big sports town,” says Thomas, whose establishment is minutes away from the Phillips Arena where the Atlanta Hawks play. “I miss thousands of people who would be coming downtown on the nights that NBA games would usually be played.”
“The staying power is better with sports fans than if people were to just come in and have a meal,” he explains. “Instead of one or two drinks they will have three or four and eat a few things to level it off during a two-hour game. I feel bad for the hostesses and cooks, who are all affected, since they don’t get to work those extra hours.”
Michael Govan, owner of Kimball’s Carnival in Jack London Square, Oakland, CA, has also been hit hard. With nine televisions and 18 pool tables, Kimball’s is a popular choice for friends to come and catch a Warriors or Clippers game when they’re not going to Oracle Arena. Though Govan is glad the football games still bring in large crowds three days each week, he says that basketball usually generates a healthy crowd to the cavernous venue on those nights when football is not being played.
“I’m thankful that the Raiders and the 49ers have been playing well, because now more people are coming out to watch the games,” he says. “I would have still had more people in if the Warriors were playing, though. I’m used to accommodating both basketball and football fans around this time of year, but now I cannot until after Christmas.”