Local businesses reel from the lack of sports action in Vancouver

It is not a good time to be a sports fan in Vancouver.

With the BC Lions’ loss to the Calgary Stampeders in the Western Division final yesterday, there are no longer any professional sports teams playing in the city.

Earlier this month, the Vancouver Whitecaps were eliminated from the playoffs and today marks day 65 of the NHL lockout.

Businesses that cater to sports fans are now hoping a deal can be reached to save at least part of the hockey season.

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At Sports Corner on Granville Street, sales are down between 40 and 45 percent.

“It is bad,” says General Manager Mike Jackson. “We will get some hits at Christmas. But that combined with the NHL lockout is devastating for us.”

Jackson says merchandise is coming in, but it’s moving at a snail’s pace…a grim picture when one considers jobs are on the line.

“If we don’t get some kind of NHL season this year, we will probably have to lay people off,” says Jackson. “The last thing you want to do is put people out of work.”

Kingsley Bailey with Vancouver Ticket Service has lost 50 percent of his revenues and won’t likely recoup the loss.

“I don’t think they have taken a couple of steps back and really looked at the economic problems and downfalls that are happening as the result of it. We are talking millionaires fighting with billionaires.”

And then there are the sports bars that have taken a significant hit.

The Mill Marine Bistro has seen a 15 percent drop in sales, and with little to entice the fans on the TV screen, fewer thirsty fans are coming through the door.

“People are still coming down, but they are definitely picking and choosing when they go,” says Adam Merpaw with the restaurant. “Plus, without those sporting events going on downtown, people are just not sticking around after work.”

They are also not taking advantage of the Aquabus’ new service.

The owner was hoping to have a Canucks boat on game night where he would transport fans between the tap and barrel bar in the Olympic Village and the Plaza of Nations.

But so far, the idea has sunk.

“That was a missed opportunity that we’ve lost,” says Geoff Pratt with Aquabus. “It is incalculable how much we’ve lost because we did not actually get to try it, but it puts jobs on the line, because we would not put an extra boat on, so we don’t hire the crew for that type of thing, so it has quite a ripple effect.”