NBA Lockout Impacts Oklahoma City Businesses

Friday, November 4th 2011, 10:13 pm
By: News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- There was no cheering Friday night at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. Friday would have been the first home game for the Thunder this season. The NBA lockout is not only halting the games, but some economic progress downtown, forcing at least one business to close it's doors.

Had the lockout never happened, downtown streets would have been expected to be full of fans ready to spend money. Now, business owners from Bricktown to downtown are left singing the blues.

"It's definitely an impact for all of Bricktown," said Ryan Slater, Bricktown Hampton Inn & Suites director of sales and marketing. "Opening night is going to be missed here. We definitely love having the excitement and the foot traffic that some of that brings around here."

Slater says Thunder Games will typically pack his hotel without a room to spare.

"A Thunder game usually helps compress the downtown hotels. The teams have to stay somewhere," said Slater.

And, so do the thousands of fans. Slater says the Hampton Inn is still seeing fairly good business, but not everyone is as fortunate.

With no games set for the entire month, some business owners are left pinching pennies while at least one is left closing up shop.

"If the season isn't happening, we're losing revenue, and that's one of the reasons why I decided to shut the building down," said Joe Jungman, owner of the Whole Enchilada Café.

Jungman closed the doors to the Whole Enchilada Cafe just blocks from the stadium. Knowing from past experience, he says he won't make it through the winter.

"In the winter months … people don't like to walk outside as much, but for the Thunder games they came out."

Remembering the days of the large downtown crowds has business owners hoping the NBA will get its act together.

"We miss [the Thunder]," said Rocky Gillenweter, owner of Rocky's, a private party hosting venue in Bricktown. "[We're] looking forward to getting things settled."

NBA talks are set to continue Saturday in an attempt to end the lockout.