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No Caps hockey chills business in Chinatown

Kathy Stewart, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – The NHL lockout that is keeping the Capitals off the ice so far this hockey season is also keeping fans away from the Chinatown area. And that adds up to economic misery for some local businesses.

“It impacts businesses around the whole Chinatown area,” says Marcelo Del Rio, a bartender/manager at the Redline bar, which lies across from the Verizon Center.

Del Rio says Redline has taken a big financial hit from the lack of games as the bar depends on the hockey season.

“A minimum of at least 20,000 people are in the area on those days.” he says of game days. “You could see a sea of red coming in here.”

But it’s not only the bars, restaurants and parking garages that are taking a hit from the lack of sports fans in Chinatown.

Jim Dinegar, president and CEO of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, says the lack of sports business also affects Metro and District coffers. If there are no games, Metro ridership dips. And if there are no ticket sales, the District collects no tax revenues.

Dinegar says the Verizon Center is its own economic engine. The arena employs full-time and part-time workers who manage those fancy suites, who sell beer and pizza, even those who sell sports paraphernalia like the foam fingers. Those employees also feel the pinch from the lack of work.

Dinegar says the dark nights at the Verizon Center associated with the hockey lockout cannot be filled with events like concerts because the scheduling, especially for big-name acts, sometimes takes years.

“We miss our Caps!” says Claude Andersen with Clydes Restaurant.

He too says the lack of games has been bad for business.

“We dearly miss our regular Cap fans that we would see on a regular basis throughout the season,” he says.

The restaurant’s managers are hoping for the best — that the New Year will bring back hockey. Even a few games are better than none, Anderson says.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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