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Blue Jackets Lockout Might Affect Arena District Businesses
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Itâ€™s been a little more than a week since National Hockey League owners locked out players over revenue sharing and salary caps, among other things. The lockout includes Columbus Blue Jackets players â€“ who wonâ€™t be paid for missed games. The dispute might mean some economic hard times for others — especially for businesses in the Arena District.
By any account the Arena District is a young and vibrant part of downtown Columbus. And itâ€™s attracting a young group of entrepreneurs. Michael Darr is one of those people. Heâ€™s co-owner of two bars just steps away from the Blue Jacketsâ€™ home ice.
â€œWe like the district,â€ Darr says. â€œWe like the growth that we see with the new Huntington Park, the new Hilton, the convention center. Thereâ€™s plenty of items going on â€“ a lot of business; a lot of growth. So with hockey and also the amount of potential customers in the area we thought it was a strong move.â€
George Choposky is another owner who puts it this way:
â€œItâ€™s beautiful down here,â€ Choposky says. â€œItâ€™s a vibrant place that people should come. Itâ€™s a fun place to be. Thereâ€™s a lot of good restaurants, thereâ€™s a lot of things happening down here.â€
But what does the indefinite termination of Blue Jackets games mean for the district? Michael Darrâ€™s â€œRâ€ Bar is a magnet for all sorts of hockey fans. Darr is afraid his business will be drastically hurt.
â€œItâ€™s a major loss of sales,â€ Darr says. â€œWeâ€™re not sure but we know itâ€™s at least a third â€“ minimal â€“ of our sales; could be more, especially with the All Star Game possibly being gone also. We also arenâ€™t hiring like we usually would; itâ€™s status quo right now on staff. So itâ€™s an impact to everyone.â€
But George Choposky, the owner of Rodizio Grill has a different take. He thinks the Arena District has grown to the extent that it can survive the loss of a few games.
â€œI didnâ€™t decide to build a restaurant in the Arena District solely based on the Blue Jackets,â€ Choposky says. â€œIt’s not good business to do that. I think that the area can sustain itself, I really do.â€
Tyrone Jackson is another young entrepreneur who co-owns The Good Frank which in part sells premium hot dogs from carts on downtown Columbus sidewalks. The NHL lockout does mean a shift in foot traffic, he says, which might mean his business will be affected. But, like George Choposky, he believes the Arena District will survive.
â€œIt does affect the foot traffic pattern but I believe that the core of downtown â€“ especially the Arena District â€“ is strong enough to sustain foot traffic, even though it is nice to see a peak every Wednesday night or so,â€ Jackson says. â€œBut the core attractions, with restaurants, with concerts, will help to keep traffic good enough for people like me to survive.â€
Thatâ€™s not to say that Choposky and Jackson can ride out an extended lockout and remain unaffected. Rodizio Grillâ€™s Choposky says that from his perspective as a hockey fan and as a business owner heâ€™d like to see the Blue Jackets back on the ice as soon as possible.
â€œGet it done boys! Letâ€™s get to playing hockey,â€ Choposky says. Letâ€™s have fun and letâ€™s bring more people into the area.â€