Published on July 16, 2011
Michelle LeBlanc, co-owner of Chinched Bistro on Queen Street, is among several business owners who welome the AHL’s return to downtown St. John’s. — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram
Published on July 16, 2011
While many downtown businesses welcome the return of the AHL to Mile One Centre, some area residents are less enthusiastic at the extra traffic the team may attract to the area. — Telegram file photo
Nearby residents not so enthused
Mile One Centre’s neighbouring businesses are looking forward to the return of AHL hockey — although some of the residents are concerned about rowdy fans on game nights.
“Not being from here, and not having been here when the Leafs were here, I don’t have any reference point,” said Michelle LeBlanc, who with her husband owns Chinched Bistro on Queen Street. “But I think it should be great for the city.
LeBLanc said it only makes sense that bringing in more business would be good for everyone.
“Whether it’s tourism alone, people coming in from other parts of the province, or other parts of the country, to watch games — hockey fans are hockey fans; they’re going to travel,” she said.
“I grew up in a hockey family, and we were all over the place, and my brothers only played minor, so I think overall it’ll be good. Our location is potentially great.”
LeBlanc said they’re considering shifting their hours to get some of the hockey crowd on game nights.
“We do a bar menu already, but we are thinking about opening early so we can get the pre-game rush and doing bar food here in the bar itself. We haven’t worked out the details of that,” she said.
Chris Rodden, manager of Breen’s Bakery and Deli on New Gower Street, said he didn’t expect the game to have much effect on the bakery because they don’t operate during game times. The business opened during the AHL’s previous stint in Mile One, but didn’t see a big business benefit and won’t be adjusting hours to take advantage of crowds attending St. John’s new AHL entry.
“We stayed open for the games, but there was no spinoff before game time,” he said. “People are just going to the games, and then they’re just going straight home, because it does cost a fair bit of money, right? The only ones that stuck around are the George Street crowd, and that’s not our kind of business.”
Rodden said they’re more likely to see a bit of a boost in catering business to Mile One staff. “I think it’s good for the whole town, for sure,” he said.
For Waldegrave Street resident Andrew Butler, the games are just going to bring even more noise and drunkenness downtown.
“This place should be shut down and blown up. These houses here should have been taken away from here long ago. It’s not the type of area where anybody should be living to,” he said.
“It’s just too rowdy. You can’t sleep. You can’t tell nobody what to do. There’s constantly drunks walking around your door, two, three o’clock in the morning, yelling. There’s no sleep; you can’t get no peace and quiet,” he said. “Daytime, the same thing — buses, trucks, cops, sirens, everything. You can’t get any peace whatsoever.”
“This place should be shut down and blown up. These houses here should have been taken away from here long ago. It’s not the type of area where anybody should be living to.” Waldegrave Street resident Andrew Butler
Butler’s girlfriend Nicole Kerr said she thinks the games could make the problem much worse.
“If there is drinking involved with the hockey, if they’re selling liquor, alcoholic beverages at the hockey — I know for concerts they don’t do that, but if they’re having hockey there and they’re going to start selling alcoholic beverages there, it’s going to be a little bit more rowdy when people are leaving, and we get that enough here.”
Butler said the convenience of living downtown — and the effort in finding a new place — is what keeps them there.
“It’s time-consuming, and money-consuming, trying to get to places that’s farther away,” he said. “You get used to an area and stuff. … It’s kind of difficult, right?”
The Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corp. operates the nearby Jighouse liquor store, which focuses on promoting Newfoundland beer and spirits, and the corporation’s marketing manager hopes game nights will create more exposure for provincial brands.
“I think it’s all very positive. Anything that drives (pedestrian) traffic to that area of the downtown core, I would expect it would only mean good things for our business and most of the businesses in that area,” said Greg Gill. “With that particular location, we tend to see a lot of traffic there from people that are visiting from outside St. John’s and oftentimes outside of the province, because it tends to be a destination where they get a little bit more of a unique experience in terms of learning about some of the local products, particularly Screech, but also the other brands that are produced here in Newfoundland.”
The more pedestrian traffic, the better, Gill said.
“We’re across the street, and we’ll be happy to take on additional business should it come by way of increased pedestrian traffic in that area. That’d be great.”
LeBlanc also said she’s not worried about post-game rowdiness.
“No more than I am about the regular George Street crowd,” she said. “It is what it is. We live on the edge of George Street. If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen. I don’t think the hockey has anything to do with it.”