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NBA Lockout Hits Local Businesses

The recent work stoppage in the NBA stretches beyond the league's front offices and arenas.

Banter between sports pundits regarding the recent NBA lockout has had much to do with blame and little to do with effect.

Ignored in the fray are those that arrive on game day not to play, but to work.

Here in the Beach Cities, some business owners find themselves responsible for bringing the game to those in their local community.

Sean Condon, owner of  in Hermosa Beach, Todd Amaral, manager at  in Manhattan Beach, and Dave Ramirez, manager at  in Redondo Beach, have all said that business has suffered the consequences of the lockout.

The NBA lockout now has stretched over 140 days and all games have been cancelled through Dec. 15. In total, 324 games have been cancelled—or 26 percent of the season.

"Taking out the NBA is really going to hurt," Condon said. "We already have felt the effect of it, looking at our numbers last year to this year. I would say we're probably down 25 percent."

Buzzer Beater Sports sells a gamut of sports apparel and memorabilia, from hats to jerseys to picture frames.

But with the cancellation of the beginning of the season, Condon has been forced to endure a potentially worse circumstance than a lack of sales. He is struggling to provide the product.

"The major manufacturer for the NBA is Adidas, and we've been forced to push back all of our orders and not accept any new deliveries on NBA stuff, which would have been beneficial to sell these few months before Christmas," Condon said. "When you're a Lakers fan, you're a Lakers fan whether there is a season or not. We still have demand [for] the product, but unfortunately, there is no product on television and no product is really offered in the store. That's really tough."

Affecting fandom across the nation is the inability to watch the games on television, and both Sharks Cove Sports Bar and Hennessey's Tavern are among sports-focused restaurants/bars wondering what will happen if the season is cancelled in its entirety.

When asked if the lockout is going to take a toll on business, Sharks Cove manager Amaral said, "Definitely, that's a given. Business is good, but it [NBA games] definitely gives us that extra push, there's no doubt about it."

Ramirez of Hennessey's said that not only will the lack of an NBA season affect bar business, but also the lack of bar business could extend to other businesses in the area.

"It's not going to only affect the bars and restaurants, because the less traffic we have, the less people that are coming down to the [Riviera] Village," Ramirez said. "That's going to effect things quite a bit ... With the economy, we've seen a slow down anyhow, but this is really going to put a slow down on us."

The NBA Players' Association and the NBA owners have been in negotiations for months, attempting to come to terms on a collective bargaining agreement.

The split of basketball-related income—including ticket sales and television deals—and the league salary cap have served as sticking points, keeping the two sides apart.

Opinions as to which side should succumb to the demands of the other have run rampant through sports circles nationwide, but as it stands, neither the players nor the owners have been willing to budge significantly.

Condon and others have been paying close attention to the negotiations, hoping that a deal comes about in the near future.

"We have a TV on in our store, and we live and die on every story that comes out about it," Condon said. "We're hoping that they get started by the first of the year, but it’s tough with the economy the way it is right now. We really bank on the NFL coming back around and the NBA for the fall, it really drives holiday sales."

Condon added that his initial allegiances were to the players, but as the negotiations have progressed, allegiances have become a thing of the past—he simply wants the season to start.

"I think a lot of this has resulted from the fact that the owners aren't on the same page," Condon said. "When you look at the owner of the Lakers, he wants to play right now. He doesn't have a problem because they're able to charge $1,000 a ticket."

He added, "Teams like the Timberwolves, who are looking to adjust the revenue share with other owners and are in the smaller market, I feel like they are the problem. Now it's gone on so long that the latest proposals, I think should have been accepted by the players. So, now I think both are at fault."

After the players turned down the latest offer from the owners, the players union decided to disband and sue the NBA over antitrust laws.

As is common knowledge, legal action can be drawn out over a lengthy period of time, meaning the season could be in more jeopardy than originally anticipated.

Amaral, an adamant NBA fan, said that not only is he losing from a financial standpoint, but also a personal sense of joy that results from the game.

"I think it stinks," Amaral said. "The players and owners, they're going to have to compromise. Everyone is going to be pissed off ... Really, it's the fans and all the workers that are getting the bum end of the deal."

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