With leagues cancelled for the season, COVID-19 is leaving some sports bars with little business

Businesses in Calgary's Red Mile are bracing for impact after several sporting leagues suspended their seasons over COVID-19.

One business had more than 70 reservations cancel on Friday

Bars along 17th Avenue, like Trolley 5 (pictured above), have already seen a wave of people cancelling reservations and party plans amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Laureen Laboret/CBC)

Businesses in Calgary's Red Mile are bracing for impact after several sporting leagues suspended their seasons over COVID-19.

This week, most major spectator sporting leagues — including the NBA and NHL — have postponed seasons and cancelled games.

And for bars in Victoria Park, not only are there no sports to cheer for but there's a collective pause on congregating as the province tries to flatten the curve and spread of coronavirus.

Harry Dimitriadis, owner of Jamesons Pub, said they've already seen a wave of party cancellations and are bracing for more amid the pandemic.

Ernie Tsu, with Trolley 5, says there's a lot of brainstorming going on to drum up business in the coming days and weeks. (Laureen Laboret/CBC)

"This morning for example I had over 70 reservations cancel and then another party — for 300 — a couple weeks away," he said.

"Any gatherings, large groups of people, they are cancelling."

Dimitriadis said they are looking for creative solutions in the coming weeks to continue drumming up business.

"There's no sports and we know people go stir-crazy when there's no sports, because sports kind of brings people together," he said.

"We plan on showing a bunch of major sporting events every night, like vintage games, you know, Super Bowl, Stanley Cup classic games, classic NBA games, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant…," he said.

Jobs at Saddledome

In the wake of the NHL season being suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, part-time staff working for the Calgary Flames, Calgary Hitmen and Calgary Roughnecks have been informed they will not be paid in the interim.

All three teams are owned by the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation, which sent an email on Friday to hourly and event staff informing them any future lost shifts would not be covered.

Crisis mode

David Low, executive director of the Victoria Park Business Improvement Area, said they're entering into a crisis phase since their job is to promote businesses and get people eating at the restaurants.

"We're already projecting out as to what the recovery looks like for people," he said.

Low said businesses are facing a wait-and-see situation like many others are during this pandemic. He suggested people look at alternative ways to promote local businesses, like ordering takeout.

"So for example you know order from your local restaurant if you're not interested in going out for dinner," he said.

"Again, just making sure that people don't forget about these businesses as we flatten the curve and get to the point where we can come back out again."

With files from Helen Pike and The Canadian Press


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