Reporting Ross Guidotti
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Fans are celebrating the return of Pittsburgh Penguins hockey this winter.
So are local business owners, who are hoping their suffering will end now that the lockout appears to be over.
It was a bleary-eyed NHL commissioner that made the announcement every hockey lover wanted to hear Sunday morning.
“We have reached an agreement on the framework on a Collective Bargaining Agreement. The details of which need to be put to paper,” Commissioner Gary Bettman said.
So far this winter, local colleges and high schools have given us the only hockey games in town. That’s about to change because the Penguins will soon drop the puck at Consol Energy Center
“I can’t tell you how happy I am, my family and I. I want to hug you,” Eric Neff from Tailgaters Bar & Grill said.
Neff has been all smiles since learning that the lockout may be over. He said the lockout has cost his business thousands of dollars.
Tailgaters is not alone as the 17th Street Café on the South Side has also felt the pinch.
“We do an average of probably about 10 tables a night for a home game and it really takes an effect on the servers, bartenders, everyone,” Patrick Joyce said.
So far, the NHL has canceled about 20 Penguins home games. The city has lost an estimated $63,000 in amusement tax revenues per game and $10,000 in parking taxes.
“It’s a great day for hockey as they say,” Dan Kobert said.
Kobert is a lot attendant who works across the street from the Consol Energy Center. He’s one of those people who needed the lockout to end for financial reasons.
Regional economists say for every game not played in Pittsburgh, that’s a loss of $2.2 million to the local economy and that can really add up. For Pens fans, who don’t have a dollar in this deal other than ticket prices, it’s about one thing and one thing only.
The Penguins are expected to play at least 20 home games during the abbreviated season.
Joyce thinks hockey fever will be back.
“Right now is when it really starts getting ramped up. Also, this time of year, the playoffs, things get a little more exciting with the game. So, I’m really looking forward to a shorter season because every game is going to mean something,” Joyce said.
With the return of the season, the 17th Street Cafe is bringing back the very popular borscht soup, which is a big favorite of the Evgeni Malkin.