Advertisement

Mighty Ducks, Mighty Profits

Team's success couldn't come at a better time for O.C. merchants hit hard by last year's lockout.

May 21, 2006|Dave McKibben | Times Staff Writer

Late one recent Sunday afternoon Chris Jarvis began to wonder if his empty Anaheim hockey equipment store would ever see a customer. Then, minutes after another Anaheim Mighty Ducks playoff victory, skates, hockey sticks and helmets flew out the door like 100-mph slapshots.

"I knew there was a correlation between how the Ducks played and my business, but I didn't realize it was that obvious," said Jarvis, general manager of HockeyGiant.com, located a few miles from the Arrowhead Pond. "We were flooded."

With his store's sales up 25% since the Ducks began their successful playoff run last month, Jarvis has jumped on the team's bandwagon.

The success of the Ducks -- who take on the Edmonton Oilers at the Pond tonight in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup semifinals -- couldn't come at a better time for local merchants, restaurants, sports bars and hotels that were hit with an economic slam into the boards during last year's season-long National Hockey League lockout.

Examples abound. JT Schmid's brew house, across the street from the Pond, lost about $800,000 because of the canceled season. The city of Anaheim lost thousands of dollars in sales and hotel bed tax revenue. And although revenue from the Duck's 41 home games was replaced by money from concerts and other events at the city-owned arena, the lockout cost the Pond millions.

Nearly half of the 300 unionized workers who serve soft drinks and hot dogs at the Pond lost their health insurance because they couldn't compile enough hours to qualify for benefits during the lockout. About 30 workers quit.

"People needed to move on," said Ada Briceno, president of the Unite Here hotel and restaurant workers' union. "They weren't making enough money to survive and care for their families."

The Ducks' success has helped fuel an economic turnaround. Average attendance at regular-season games this season, 15,131, was the highest in seven years. The Ducks' season ticket base of more than 9,000 is the highest in five years.

Tickets for the first two home games of the Edmonton series sold out in seven minutes.

Some businesses have recovered from the lockout faster than others. Before home games, JT Schmid's is jammed with 600 to 700 hockey fans while hundreds more are turned away.

"We're not going to make back everything we lost," said owner Jason Schmid. "But this season and the playoffs have been a nice surprise and a boon for business."

The nearby Ayres Hotel has been booked solid for every Mighty Ducks' home game since mid-January.

About a third of the hotel's 133 rooms go to hockey fanatics from as far away as Edmonton and Montreal.

"I wasn't a hockey fan, but I've had to become one," said Dana Bartholomew, hotel general manager. "You have to stay on top of it to make sure you have enough rooms on hockey nights."

A few blocks away, Danny K's Sports Cafe & Billiards is still feeling the effects of the lost season. Though Game 3 of the Ducks' second-round playoff series against Colorado wasn't shown on most local cable outlets, the bar was full of nearly as many Trivial Pursuit and baseball fans as Ducks fans.

"We're building back up slowly," said Danny K's manager Jamie Jun. "When the Ducks had their Stanley Cup finals run in 2003, we were a lot busier. When a whole season goes by and the local team isn't playing, I think a lot of people lost interest."

Dave Golbeck, 56, a Ducks die-hard who was wearing a team jersey, isn't among them.

"I couldn't wait for hockey to come back," he said while he sipped beer, ate nachos and kept an eye on the big screen. "There was something missing for me."

Ed Atkinson, a high school principal who lives in Fullerton, missed a lot of regular season games. But he has attended several postseason home contests and dumped a lot of money back into the local economy.

On one recent night, it was dinner at Danny K's while Atkinson watched a Ducks' road game.

"I'm going out a lot more now that the Ducks are playing and winning," he said. "I know I didn't go out much when they weren't playing. I'm not sure what I did. I guess I worked more."

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|