Channelside businesses struggle as more Lightning games get canceled

Post RNC business woes continue

TAMPA, Fla. - It's been a tough few months for some business owners in Channelside.  They were disappointed by the Republican National Convention and now, they are watching the hockey season disappear.
David O'Keefe Studios opened about a month before the RNC.  Employees say they anticipated big business from the convention, selling some GOP merchandise.

Rena Charles is the Director of Gallery Relations.  Charles said, "We didn't get the crowd, volume that we were expecting. But we were still happy. We did very well."

Charles says that's why they were looking forward to the Lightning crowds. But, game cancelations have forced them to scale back employee hours and close their doors early. The NHL scrapped all preseason games and Thursday afternoon, canceled 2 weeks' worth of regular season games.

That's means Tampa Bay's first four games, three at home, are now gone.  Charles said, "There's definitely not as much traffic. There's not as much of the neighborhood crowd coming out to the games. There's no one on the streets. It's virtually a ghost town."

Precinct Pizza Owner Rick Drury says business has dropped 30% in the last couple months. He says they too were counting on a big boost from Lightning games. Drury said, "We get the people who work at the forum coming in before the games. We get the the people that do the concessions. The ticket people. I mean all the people that come in that work there. We get this procession of people all day long."

Drury fears the entire NHL regular season is in jeopardy. But, no matter what the outcome, he says his business is here to stay.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn told ABC action News Channelside is growing. There's talk of a grocery store opening in the area and Tampa Bay Lightning Owner Jeff Vinik  is said to be negotiating to buy the plaza.

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