Downtown restaurant owners bemoan lack of arena events.Written by Betsy Woodruff | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Several Downtown entrepreneurs say they are concerned about the future of their businesses because of what they describe as the lack of entertainment at the Huntington Center.
The next event at the arena is the “American Idol” concert on Aug. 29. Before that, the only other event was the Brad Paisley concert on June 4.
“I’m saying, two times a month? Can we have two events a month in the summer?” said Eric Sitter, a co-ower of Sidelines. “I just think it’s a shame. I think it’s a huge shame that that gorgeous expensive arena is sitting there doing nothing.”
He added that he thinks summer concertgoers would enjoy seeing performances in an air-conditioned facility instead of outside in the hot weather.
Sitter said when he opened the Downtown Toledo location of Sidelines, he was banking on the arena drawing crowds to the area.
“We are dependent on the arena,” he said.
But with very little entertainment over the summer, he said his restaurant is having trouble attracting enough people to remain profitable.
He said he has not been able to give some of his employees hours in three weeks because of the lack of evening entertainment.
“It’s just a shame,” he said.
Kelly King, manager of Ole Taco, said her business is similarly dependent on the arena to attract people to the Downtown area.
“We really count on events that happen at the Huntington Center, and we’re very anxious for the Walleyes to start,” she said.
Joe Cowell, the owner and operator of the Toledo Players Sports Bar, said he has had to lay off some of his employees because business has been lighter than he expected because of the arena’s inactivity during the summer. When Players opened six months ago, Cowell said he had no idea that the arena would be almost empty for three months during the summer.
One Huntington Center suite owner, who requested anonymity, said it does not look like the arena will be able to hit the number of events suite holders were promised for 2010.
“The events that have been there have been outstanding, but there seems to be a lot of quiet time this summer,” the suite holder said.
Al Purdie, the marketing manager for the Huntington Center, said it is typical for indoor arenas to be lightly scheduled over the summer because most artists are performing at outdoor events.