On Wednesday, the National Lacrosse League announced it was cancelling plans to play a shortened season starting in April, because of uncertainties surrounding the pandemic.
That means no home games for the Saskatchewan Rush, which will affect Saskatoon businesses.
“It's such an ecosystem of tourism, and the restaurant culture, and just everyone that that benefits from having a professional sports team in our city here of Saskatoon,” said Chris Sikorsky, owner of Sik Pics, the team’s official commercial videographer.
The Rush are one of Sikorsky’s biggest clients and a lost season hurts financially.
“It absolutely is a huge blow, so we have had to find creative ways to supplement that income. It's been a challenge, we really missed the team,” he said.
“To produce video content for nine home games, and with a winning team playoff games as well, in addition to the media we produce for social or TV, other marketing campaigns.”
Trystan Meyers, or DJ Anchor, operates Armed With Harmony Music Services and is the official DJ of the Rush.
“It's disappointing obviously, because I think not only from a fan perspective, but from an employment perspective, it makes things a little bit more challenging,” said Meyers.
He’ll be missing out on dollars with the Rush, but adds intangibles like exposure and credibility in being the team’s official DJ are tough to beat.
“It's definitely a big part of what people see and associate the company with,” he said.
“The spin off that I get from that, saying ‘Oh you're the DJ from the Rush or Armed With Harmony is the company who's the entertainment provider from the Rush’, it gives me visibility to 16,000 people in the seats every game, plus any promo clips or things like that.”
The Rush are a main tenant of SaskTel Centre, and executive director Scott Ford says he was looking forward to having activity once again in the building, which hasn’t hosted a major event since last March.
“Our business is built around hosting large, large crowds, and it's been tough,” said Ford. “When you have that many people in the building, the strong ticket sales, strong food and beverage numbers, certainly good for all the sponsors, the Rush sponsors and SaskTel Centre sponsors, so it's an important part of our business.”
Ford, Meyers and Sikorsky say they’re all looking for financial support from the government as revenues from events like NLL games continue to be lost.
“People are hurting and I think funding is needed for tourism, a sector that's been hit harder than arguably anyone else right, so the performing arts and live events,” said Sikorsky.
“We're looking for the provincial government, the federal government, to really take a close look at this and to step up.”
“There's nothing for entertainment, and that is such a huge, in my opinion, massive gaping hole,” said Meyers.
“It's almost like we're a forgotten industry, and I get it because when times are good and people are having fun, there's money to spend on entertainment.”
“The wage subsidy has certainly helped keeping people employed and that, so that federal program has assisted,” said Ford.
“But nothing major like in the United States. They have some programs that are quite a bit more significant for the arenas, stadiums, large convention centers, theatres and that. We're optimistic that something like that will happen for our facilities in in Canada.”
Ford says large facilities like SaskTel Centre have a trickle-down effect for other businesses.
“Creating other spin-off economic activity with booking of hotels, and shopping in stores, and eating in restaurants, and buying gas at gas stations.”
The NLL says they’re focused on a more traditional regular season starting in the fall.