A hockey tournament for kids is the closest thing to competitive hockey currently being played at Nationwide Arena in downtown Columbus.
The National Hockey League lockout has left hockey fans like Steve Piroska to cheer for his son, who doesn't get paid to play on the ice.
“I think it's been disappointing for most people. Obviously, my kids play hockey and that's the hockey we've been watching,” said Piroska.
The NHL lockout hit the city of Columbus harder than most other pro-hockey towns.
Not only did Columbus lose a chunk of the regular season, it was also scheduled to host the All-Star game which would have pumped millions into the local economy.
“It is definitely a lot slower. We have not hired as many employees,” said bartender Andre Henderson
Henderson works at Gordon Birch's which is just around the corner from the arena.
“I think with hockey back, people that don't generally come here, spend money in the bars,” said Henderson.
At Ted's Montana Grill, across the street from the arena, even a scaled down hockey season is a late Christmas gift.
“Hockey being here now has really pumped us up morale up a little bit we're looking forward to it for sure,” said proprietor Joe Sauvie.
This 532-room downtown Hilton was completed in October. It was built in large part to attract the NHL All-Star game, and management said it was counting on all of its room being filled had the game not been scrapped.
The league has not said when games will start again, but businesses that depend on the crowds say the puck can’t drop quickly enough.
“Games is a big amount and we do see a financial impact overall,” Michael Darr, R Bar owner. “It was a relief. It was nice to know that the headaches, and the emotional roller coaster is over.”
To help Arena District businesses survive the lockout, Nationwide Realty offered reduced rents.
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