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Garden-Area Restaurants Bemoan NBA Lockout04:20


It’s Nov. 1 and the Boston Celtics have yet to lay down the parquet floor in the TD Garden. The NBA lockout is now in its 124th day, and all preseason games and the first four weeks of the league's regular season have been canceled.

While the players and owners are fighting over big dollars, some local little guys are suffering.

West End Pizza is a relatively new, small place a couple of blocks from the Garden in Boston’s North Station area. It sells about 150 pizzas on game nights and only 18 on non-game nights.

Night manager John Stanley is worried. His hours have already been cut.

"You know the Celtics really hurt everybody," Stanley said. "They don’t realize, the NBA, how many people they really affect when they don’t play."

Rita Pasquale's family has owned Halftime Pizza on Causeway Street, right across the street from the Garden, for more than 30 years.

“As far as I’m concerned, it’s the millionaires versus the billionaires, and the ‘thousandaires’ are the ones who are hurting."

Joseph Gonzales, Sports Grille Boston bar manager

"All the businesses in this area, they absolutely count on, we depend on the Celtics and Bruins games because, this area, we have a little bit of lunch hour and that’s it," Pasquale said. "We live for the events at the [formerly named] FleetCenter, and so we’re losing a lot of business."

So far, eight Celtics games that would have been played at the TD Garden — two in the preseason, six in the regular season — have been canceled. Cancellations cost the team income and the players their salaries.

And each time a game is canceled at the Garden, it has a ripple effect.

The Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau says the more than 18,000 fans who attend each Celtics home game collectively generate up to $1 million a game for the city’s tourist industry.

At the Fours Boston on Canal Street, a half a block away from the Garden, owner Peter Colton says the area is like a ghost town when there are no games or other events at the Garden.

"[And without that building], a lot of businesses probably wouldn’t be in this area," Colton said. "There wouldn’t be a North Station without that building. That’s the magnet for the whole area."

His business has already gone through two work stoppages, an NBA lockout that cut 32 games from the 1998-99 season and the labor dispute that derailed the entire 2004-2005 NHL season.

Colton says business triples when the Celtics play at home.

"I mean, those are games you don’t get back," he said. "Employees-wise, yeah, you can’t hire as much and the employees that you do hire don’t get as many hours. They have to pay rent, mortgages, education; they have families so it hurts everybody.

"Hopefully everyone gets back to work and starts making money again. It’s been a long time. I’ll be glad when it’s over."

"It’s just a terrible time to do something like this," Pasquale said. "I guess there’s never a good time, but this economy is really a rough time for people and it affects — I’m talking about small people, waiters, waitresses, the parking lots, I’m talking everybody, the parking garage where we park our cars."

NBA owners and players are still fighting over how to split $4 billion in revenue. The league wants a 50-50 split. The players, who received 57 percent last year, are holding out for 52 percent.

"I really don’t know the [lockout] details," said Joseph Gonzales, bartender and bar manager at Sports Grille Boston, where everywhere you turn there’s a television — 120 in all — lining the walls, hanging over the bar, perched above every booth. Normally this time of the year, it would be the place to be to get a visual on just about every NBA game.

But Gonzales knows he has little sympathy for either side.

"As far as I’m concerned, it’s the millionaires versus the billionaires, and the 'thousandaires' are the ones who are hurting," he said. "The people who work in the arenas, around the arenas, are the ones who are going to lose out."

Meantime both the NBA players and owners have brought unfair labor practice charges against each other with the National Labor Relations Board. A ruling could come any day.

This program aired on November 1, 2011.

Delores Handy Twitter Reporter
Delores Handy was formerly a host and reporter at WBUR.


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