Bars, restaurants look to cash in on Hornets' playoff appearance

Hornets playoffs and economy

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - After the Hornets missed out on the playoffs last year, fans are ready to cheer their team on in this year's postseason. Bars and restaurants in the Epicentre are looking to cash in on the excitement.

"As a server, when the Hornets come to town, when they're playing in town, you definitely want to work," said Ryan Cotty, a server at City Smoke.

The Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority does not have an estimate on how much money the Hornets' playoff games will bring to the city, since they focus on events, and not individual teams.

However, managers at bars and restaurants in the Epicentre, just down the street from Time Warner Cable Arena, say games both home and away bring in bigger crowds.

"Sold out games, everybody wants to be downtown, and we have a big following for the Hornets here, so it should be pretty good," said Vince Lanni, the manager at Tin Roof.

During home games, bars and restaurants will see a lot more foot traffic. But during away playoff games, they will also fill up with fans who cannot afford to make the trip to watch the team play in person.

The last time the Hornets made the playoffs was in 2014, when they were the Bobcats. It may be more important now to take advantage of the playoff crowds than it was back then.

After the backlash over House Bill 2, several businesses and events have chosen not to come to Charlotte, costing the city hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars.

Since the law took effect, both Deutsche Bank and PayPal pulled out of their planned Charlotte expansions, which means a loss of 650 jobs between the two companies.

The city of Charlotte has already lost more than $2.5 million between groups who have either canceled conventions and events, or eliminated Charlotte in the final selection phases. That figure can jump to more than $86 million with 36 groups hesitating to come to the city.

The status of next year's NBA All Star Game, which is expected to bring in $100 million, is still up in the air.

"Let me be clear. The current state of the law is problematic for the NBA and North Carolina," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said during the owners meeting earlier in the week.

The money lost takes into account what out-of-towners would have spent on hotels, food and entertainment.

With the Hornets taking on the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs, businesses are hoping to make some of that money back.

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