In St. Paul, pain of NHL lockout more a pinch than a punch

  • Article by: MIKE KASZUBA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 19, 2012 - 12:31 PM

Income from sales and lodging taxes, one barometer of a city's economic health, hasn't shown a broad effect.

The National Hockey League lockout doesn't appear to be creating a large economic drag on St. Paul, despite repeated talk of financial pain by some city officials.

Some individual businesses are being hurt by the three-month lockout, but state sales taxes and lodging taxes in St. Paul were up slightly in November compared to November 2011, when the NHL was playing games at downtown's Xcel Energy Center.

State Department of Revenue officials cautioned that the tax figures don't paint a definitive picture, but said November's numbers, and the results from the NHL's 2004-2005 lockout, suggest that neither the city's economy nor the downtown core's are driven by professional hockey.

State sales tax figures increased in St. Paul during much of the 2004-05 lockout.

"If there was a significant impact of the lockout in 2004-05, it cannot be demonstrated using these statistics," said Paul Wilson, the research director at the Minnesota Department of Revenue.

Some city officials and civic leaders, who have said that this year's lockout is causing widespread economic pain, said state sales tax totals likely present a flawed perspective. .

"Tragically, and I say this with a certain amount of humor, sales tax receipts fall into the category of lies, damn lies and statistics," said Matt Kramer, the president of the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce. Kramer, a onetime chief of staff to former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, said that anyone analyzing sales taxes needed to be "extraordinarily careful" to compare "apples to apples."

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said this week that while the lockout is having a ripple effect throughout the city, the number of businesses in financial jeopardy because of it "might be a half dozen, it might be a dozen."

Coleman said that, even with the lockout, the city was continuing to rebound from the recession and that "I'm overall very pleased with where St. Paul's at right now" economically.

Benefit not clear

John Wengler, a co-owner of Billy's On Grand, a bar and restaurant two miles from the arena, said he stopped running shuttles to Wild games two years ago because of a lack of interest. "Do you want my honest answer, or do you want me to jump on board with what everyone else" is saying about the situation, he said jokingly.

"That's not driving our economy," he said of the games.

At O'Gara's, another St. Paul bar that still has shuttles to Wild games, co-owner Kris O'Gara said the games provide a "nice boost" but said the bar was more than surviving. "We're still fine," she added.

Even at Cossetta's, the longtime Italian deli a block from Xcel Energy Center, manager Ray Vanyo said the lockout was likely curtailing new customers but that "we're still getting good business" primarily because of a nearly completed expansion.

State officials said that citywide sales tax, use tax and lodging tax figures do not show a consistent overall economic benefit or loss to St. Paul that can be associated with hockey.

Wilson said sales tax figures for the city actually increased 4.2 percent from January through May 2005, during the lockout, over the same five-month period in 2004, before the lockout. For the 2005-06 hockey season, the first year after the lockout, the figure was up again, by 2.1 percent.

In addition, Wilson said that it was also difficult to draw conclusions by examining data for a narrower geographic area that includes the Xcel Energy Center and surrounding businesses.

During the 2004-05 lockout, state sales tax collections in that narrower area dropped by 9 percent in 2004 to $30 million, and again by 3 percent in 2005 to $29.1 million. While the decreases could be blamed on the lockout, state sales taxes for that area dropped by 18 percent in 2007, to $27.5 million, when hockey was being played. Wilson said the 2007 decreases suggested that the presence of hockey was not enough to offset other, unknown, factors.

"Collections in both 2007 and 2008 [combined] were even lower than in the missing season years of 2004 and 2005," Wilson wrote in an analysis of the data.

Wilson added that the narrow geographic area including the Xcel Energy Center represents less than 20 percent of all sales tax collections in the city, meaning any losses or gains might be offset by activity elsewhere in St. Paul.

City officials said the lockout's imprint is noticeable in other ways.

For starters, they said, parking ramp revenue near the Xcel Energy Center fell dramatically from September and October 2011 compared with the same two months this year. For October, revenue from six parking ramps dropped from $364,611 in 2011 to $278,222 this year, a 24 percent decrease. The decrease from September 2011 and the same month this year was 29 percent.

City officials also said that comparing city sales tax figures from October 2004 through April 2005 -- during the lockout -- with the same time the next year showed a $300,000 boost, for a total of nearly $8.7 million.

Not yet at breaking point

At the Eagle Street Grille, across the street from the hockey arena, owners Joe Kasel and Kevin Geisen have received much publicity as they have described the effect of the lockout. In a letter to the NHL's commissioner, Kasel said that Wild games accounted for half of the business' annual gross revenue.

But Geisen said that while the lockout had significantly hurt business, it had not yet brought them to a breaking point.

"At this point, I would say no," he said last week of possibly going out of business. "[But] it wouldn't take too much to push us over."

At Alary's, a longtime downtown bar and restaurant, owner Al Baisi said the lockout has been felt as well. The bar's four shuttle buses that take Wild fans to the arena, eight blocks away, are idle. But he said he is more than surviving. "Overall, we're still doing fine here," he said.

Mike Kaszuba • 651-222-1673

  • related content

  • By the numbers: Effect of NHL lockout

    Tuesday December 18, 2012

    State revenue officials said overall sales tax figures in St. Paul -- and also for just the city's downtown area -- present a cloudy picture on the effect of the...

  • Setoguchi taking time off from ECHL team; Spurgeon update

    Tuesday December 18, 2012

    The Ontario Reign announced that Devin Setoguchi has been suspended, but the Wild winger clarified Tuesday that he is taking a leave of absence until the NHL lockout is resolved

  • Kevin Geisen, co-owner of the Eagle Street Grille, worked the lunch cr...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Denver 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Carolina 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Detroit 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Green Bay
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Denver 6:00 PM
Charlotte
Portland 7:00 PM
Houston
Utah 7:00 PM
Memphis
Toronto 7:00 PM
Chicago
Atlanta 7:30 PM
Dallas
LA Clippers 7:30 PM
San Antonio
Sacramento 9:30 PM
Golden State
Ottawa 6:00 PM
Washington
Nashville 6:00 PM
Columbus
Pittsburgh 6:30 PM
Florida
Arizona 9:00 PM
Vancouver
San Jose 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Calgary 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Ark-Little Rock 64 FINAL
Bradley 54
Brown 67 FINAL
Central Conn St 55
Stetson 59 FINAL
Florida State 63
Ill-Chicago 46 FINAL
Northwestern 63
Ohio 49 FINAL
George Washington 77
Southern Utah 58 2nd Half 6:42
Ark-Pine Bluff 54
Elon 57 2nd Half 3:41
Kennesaw St 56
Dartmouth 15 1st Half 3:45
Penn State 27
Green Bay 13 1st Half 17:34
UC Irvine 3
DePaul 3:40 PM
Colorado
Lewis & Clark 4:00 PM
Portland
SC State 4:30 PM
Abilene Christian
Manhattan 5:00 PM
Fordham
Truett-McConnell 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Citadel 5:00 PM
Michigan State
Miami-Ohio 5:00 PM
Ohio State
Gardner-Webb 5:00 PM
Purdue
Idaho 5:00 PM
Northern Ky
Fairfield 6:00 PM
Albany
North Dakota St 6:00 PM
Alcorn State
UT Martin 6:00 PM
Butler
SE Louisiana 6:00 PM
UCF
Oakland 6:00 PM
Clemson
Florida A&M 6:00 PM
East Carolina
Eastern Ky 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
IUPU-Ft Wayne 6:00 PM
Illinois State
Norfolk State 6:00 PM
James Madison
Binghamton 6:00 PM
Mount St Marys
Towson 6:00 PM
Navy
Long Island 6:00 PM
New Hampshire
Northern Ill 6:00 PM
Notre Dame
William & Mary 6:00 PM
Old Dominion
Liberty 6:00 PM
Princeton
Delaware 6:00 PM
Robert Morris
MD-Eastern Shore 6:00 PM
St Bonaventure
Colgate 6:00 PM
Syracuse
Kansas 6:00 PM
Temple
Mercer 6:00 PM
Tennessee
East Tenn St 6:00 PM
VA Commonwealth
Va Military 6:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Bucknell 6:00 PM
Wake Forest
Alabama A&M 6:00 PM
Western Mich
New Orleans 6:05 PM
Indiana
Columbia 6:30 PM
Connecticut
Long Beach State 6:30 PM
St Johns
Wofford 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Southern U 7:00 PM
Baylor
UAB 7:00 PM
Chattanooga
Char Southern 7:00 PM
Colorado State
North Florida 7:00 PM
Iowa
NC Central 7:00 PM
Jackson State
Rice 7:00 PM
Lamar
Central Mich 7:00 PM
McNeese State
Coppin State 7:00 PM
Michigan
Furman 7:00 PM
Minnesota
SE Missouri St 7:00 PM
Ole Miss
Weber State 7:00 PM
Oklahoma
Grambling St 7:00 PM
TCU
Loyola-Chicago 7:00 PM
Texas Tech
Incarnate Word 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Penn 7:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Chicago State 7:00 PM
SIU Edwardsville
Simpson 7:05 PM
Drake
Tenn Tech 7:05 PM
UMKC
Murray State 7:05 PM
Southern Ill
Oral Roberts 7:05 PM
Missouri State
Jacksonville St 8:00 PM
Air Force
Milwaukee 8:00 PM
Arkansas
Wisconsin 8:00 PM
California
Coll of Charleston 8:00 PM
LSU
North Dakota 8:00 PM
Marquette
Northern New Mexico 8:00 PM
New Mexico St
UC Santa Barbara 8:00 PM
Oregon
Miami-Florida 8:00 PM
Providence
Northeastern 8:00 PM
St Marys-CA
Kent State 8:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
UC Davis 8:00 PM
Northern Colorado
Lewis-Clark State 8:05 PM
Eastern Wash
Walla Walla 8:05 PM
Portland State
TX A&M-CC 9:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Marshall 9:00 PM
Nevada
Boise State 9:30 PM
Houston
UC Riverside 10:00 PM
San Diego St
Tulane 10:00 PM
Washington
Loyola Marymount 10:00 PM
Wichita State
Nebraska 12/23/14 12:00 AM
Hawaii
BYU 28 3rd Qtr 3:45
Memphis 38
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
UMass Lowell 63 FINAL
Holy Cross 78
Temple 59 FINAL
Villanova 64
Georgia Southern 68 FINAL
Southern U 52
Xavier 60 FINAL
Kennesaw St 61
Eastern Michigan 52 FINAL
Michigan 81
Brescia 56 FINAL
Marshall 127
(21) West Virginia 54 FINAL
Ohio State 96
UMBC 87 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 78
Cornell 79 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 61
St Bonaventure 70 FINAL
Georgetown 64
New Hampshire 63 FINAL
Northeastern 62
Eastern Washington 67 FINAL
Florida 56
Rice 61 2nd Half 1:29
Texas Southern 65
Butler 27 1st Half 3:43
Illinois State 22
UC Davis 4:00 PM
(16) Stanford
Washington St 4:00 PM
Loyola Marymount
Sacramento St 4:00 PM
San Jose St
SIU-Edwardsville 4:30 PM
UMKC
Oakland 6:00 PM
IUPU-Ft Wayne
Belmont 6:00 PM
(14) Georgia
George Mason 6:00 PM
Longwood
Kansas 6:05 PM
Creighton
Abilene Christian 7:00 PM
Kansas State
UT Martin 7:00 PM
Missouri
Hampton 7:00 PM
DePaul
Florida State 7:00 PM
Tulane
Murray State 7:00 PM
Illinois
Fla Gulf Coast 7:05 PM
Arkansas State
BYU 8:00 PM
Utah State

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Do you like the Twins off-season moves so far?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close