Local Businesses Brace For Lockout Fallout

Story by: Chris Springsteen

Local Downtown Salt Lake businesses and restaurants are struggling and it’s not just because of America’s economic problems.
The NBA will miss the first month and a half of the season because of the NBA lockout. The Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) has been settled but the question of the restaurants’ survival still remains. Downtown Salt Lake restaurants that usually flourish around this time of year are struggling to make ends meet. Because of this lockout some businesses have even had to reduce workloads because the lack of customers coming into their establishments.
As Susan Shrum, general manager at Thaifoon restaurant, puts it, “I employ 55 people. It impacts everybody from the prep crew to line cooks to waiters to bartenders.”
The NBA and the players association locked out the league on July 1, 2011. The league was locked out (much like the NFL) because the owners and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) couldn’t agree on a deal that both sides thought was fair.
The problem the two sides had agreeing on a deal was the BRI (Basketball Related Income). According to ESPN, the players had 57% of the share last year and the owners wanted them to take as low as 47% in the new deal.
Some of the small market owners (including the Jazz) claimed they were losing money every year and were operating in the red. The Salt Lake Tribune caught up with Greg Miller, current owner of the Jazz and son of first Utah Jazz owner Larry Miller, and he said, “(We) will lose quite a bit of money this season (when asked about it at the end of last year).”
The Utah Jazz is very important for downtown restaurants and bars to be successful in Salt Lake City. Most stores have substantial gains in customers and profit during winter compared to summer. This is directly related to Utah Jazz home games.
Jan Thompson, assistant general manager at Iggy’s Sports Grill, described what her restaurant will be losing from the month and a half long lockout, “We fill up every home game and that’s at all [five] of our locations. Downtown we get the pre- and postgame crowds and a few others who want to watch the games. All the other locations draw big crowds just to watch the Jazz.”
Brady Lambert, supervisor at Ben and Jerry’s, can’t emphasis enough how important the Jazz games are to them, “Our sales almost double on Jazz nights.”
Just recently though, the two sides reached an agreement that will put an end to the lockout on Dec. 9, 2011. This is a breaking development for Salt Lake businesses and will no doubt relieve some of the concerns they had going into a potentially dreary winter. But will this new agreement be able to save some of the failing Salt Lake businesses?
According to the Deseret News, probably but the lost time of November and most of December will no doubt take its toll on local businesses. Hopefully their won’t have to be any businesses or restaurants shut down because of this lost time. The good news is come that Christmas day in December the NBA schedule kicks off and businesses should see the crowds start piling up once again.