The Sabres must pay hefty signing bonuses to some players even if the NHL doesn't play any games, including $10 million to defenseman Tyler Myers, according to TSN, the Canadian sports network.
The Sabres by January 2005 had cut their full-time staff from 151 to 96, but Pegula said at a news conference last month that the team has no plans to lay off or lower the salaries of their full-time workers.
"We are disappointed the NHL and [the players union] have not been able to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement," Sabres President Ted Black said in a statement to The News. "We want to play hockey under the right circumstances that the NHL will negotiate on our behalf and on behalf of all the other NHL Clubs."
The employees who will feel the effect of the lockout almost immediately are those seasonal, part-time workers who staff the First Niagara Center on game nights and won't be called into work if there aren't any games.
Their ranks include the 95 or 100 ticket-takers and ushers represented by Local 200 of the Service Employees International Union, said John Heidinger, the union representative.
Those workers, some of whom have worked for the Sabres since the 1970s, typically use their game-night income to supplement the pay from their day jobs or to earn a few extra bucks in their retirement. They earn a little more than $50 per game, Heidinger said.
"If you're able to put some of this money away, it helps with the Christmas bills," he said, and his members struggled in 2004-05 to find another job to replace their Sabres income.
Sportservice, a division of Buffalo-based Delaware North Cos. that has the concessions contract at First Niagara Center, employs about 700 people on game nights.
About 20 are managers and other salaried, full-time workers, but most are part-time, seasonal employees who won't be brought on if the games are canceled, said Glen White, a spokesman for Delaware North. Some of those part-time workers, who earn about $65 for a Sabres game, will be assigned to work at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Sportservice has the concessions contract for six NHL arenas including the Sabres. The company will feel the effect of the lockout, but Delaware North is a large, diversified company and Sportservice has contracts with 10 Major League Baseball and seven National Football League stadiums, among other venues, White said.
The Sabres' sponsors, too, will feel the lockout's effect because fans won't see their signs posted around the arena and TV viewers won't see and hear their names during game broadcasts.
First Niagara Financial Group, whose name is plastered throughout the arena and in giant letters on its exterior, would seem to have the most to lose among the sponsors, but the bank was not sounding the alarm last week.
"We continue to work closely with the Sabres organization. They are always great to work with. They've been very responsive and we're moving forward with some very exciting new promotional programs in anticipation of a great season," Kim Jackson, First Niagara's sponsorship manager, said in an email.
Ticket scalpers and resellers also will feel the pinch of the lockout. VIP Seats, a ticket broker based in Williamsville, owns about 1,000 season tickets for 10 NHL teams. The company had to pay nearly $1 million up front for the tickets, said Nick Giammusso, operator of VIP Seats, which employs six.
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