BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) - New York state, or the National Hockey League, should come up with a financial package to aid businesses hurt by the current lock-out.
State Sen. Tim Kennedy, D-Buffalo, believes some form of incentive package should be made available to businesses such as hotels, restaurants and retailers that may be seeing a drop in business because of the labor dispute between the NHL and the National Hockey League Players Association.
The lock-out has forced the NHL to cancel all of its games through Nov. 30, which for the Buffalo Sabres means that 20 games including 10 at First Niagara Center have gone by the wayside.
The canceled games, especially those in Buffalo, are hurting businesses that rely on sports fan flocking through their doors to watch games, eat, drink or buy merchandise.
Kennedy has asked Kenneth Adams, Empire State Development Corp. chairman, to consider putting together an incentive package to aid businesses across New York that are impacted by the lock-out.
Additionally, Kennedy is looking to the NHL to offer some assistance as well.
"I want them to step up because of an environment and situation that these (small) businesses have no control over," Kennedy said.
Letters to Adams and the NHL are expected to be sent this week.
"What the NHL owners and players are doing is juvenile, but it is having its impact - and not in a good way - on so many other businesses," Kennedy said.
Kennedy said he has fielded calls from a number of restaurants and bars expressing frustration over the lock-out and lost business. The state senator said any incentives should be offered to businesses, regardless of their location, and not just those in immediate proximity to First Niagara Center or any other NHL arena.
By his estimation, each canceled game is worth "millions" in terms of lost revenues for these businesses.
"As long as they should they have had a detrimental impact," Kennedy said. "They would not be in this position, except for the lock-out."
Kennedy said he hopes Empire State Development Corp. can craft such incentives as one-time grants to help pay for certain utility costs or create an interest-free financial package that will help a business pay down its short term debt.
The NHL should also offer one-time hardship grants as well, Kennedy said.
To be eligible, businesses would have to open their books and show how the lock-out has impacted their bottom line.
"Certain (operating) costs are not going to go away just because the NHL shut its doors," Kennedy said. "These businesses should not be harmed because of the lock-out."