ST. PAUL, Minn. - There are usually two sides to an argument, but St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, business owners and employees insists they aren't taking a side.
They simply want the NHL lockout to end.
On the day the Wild was to open the 2012-2013 season, Coleman, business and tourism officials and a food and drink server gathered in front of the Eagle Street Grill to ask NHL owners and the player's uinion to get back to the negotiating table and end the lockout.
"Unfortunately, for the second time since 2004 the NHL season is headling toward a cliff," said Mayor Coleman. "We're going to lose at least the first couple weeks of the season."
The NHL has cancelled games until at least October 24, which means the loss of 5 home contests for the Wild. For the city's hotels, bars and restaurants, and other establishments that means 17,000 ticket holders won't stream into downtown that night. Businesses are losing customers, employees are losing hours and wages, and the impact will hurt St. Paul.
"There's real world impact, on a large scale and on a small scale," Coleman insisted.
Eagle Street Grill server Meg Hyland would be on the small scale, numbers wise, but her kids certainly wouldn't see it that way. The single mother of three can't sign them up for hockey due to having her hours cut and her tips dry up.
"I think in this economy it's time for the players and owners to realize the impact they're having," Hyland told reporters. "They're fighting over billions and not worrying about whether or not they'll be able to pay their mortgage, or whether their children will be eating well, or whether their children will be able to play the sports they want to play."
A tourism official says the city has already documented $100,000 in cancelled coach bus business, and those buses would have been carrying fans who would eat, drink, and buy merchandise.
Those standing in front of Eagle Street made it clear they're not taking sides; They simply think it's time for both sides to stop posturing and get back to serious negotiations, so they can get back to making a living... and enjoying the state of hockey.
"This lockout affects real people," insists Meg Hyland, "and it needs to end now."
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