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NHL cancels more games; downtown businesses hurting

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Chris Caya/WBFO News
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There appears to be no end in sight to the hockey lockout.  The National Hockey League on Friday announced the cancelation of regular-season schedule through the end of November. 

The lockout is having a significant effect on local businesses that rely on hockey-generated revenue.  Friday afternoon, a group of local business owners gathered to discuss the economic impact of the ongoing stalemate.

Templeton Landing manager Christy Vukelic says says the lockout has had a devastating effect on her business and she has had to lay off workers.

"We need to keep this city going. We're on a great path to recreating ourselves and this is not helping us," said Vukelic.

Vukelic says wintertime on the waterfront is tough enough to begin with and with the Sabres not playing, it's now even tougher.

Mark Croce, who owns several Buffalo restaurants and bars, says his organization employs more than 300 people in the downtown service industry.  Croce says the loss of games reverberates across many sectors.  

"Hockey is a tremendous part of our business, just like theater is. To lose potentially 42 games this year and all the other special events that go along with those could be devastating," said Croce.

State Senator Tim Kennedy has sent a letter to the president of the Empire State Development Corporation, asking ESD to begin developing emergency support plans to help small businesses make ends as the downturn continues.

“The NHL lockout is icing local business development. With no end in sight, Empire State Development needs to gear up with emergency-support plans to prevent a ‘lockout’ on local economic progress,” said Kennedy.

The ideal scenario, all parties agree, would be for the league and the union to come to an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement, so the season can be salvaged.

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