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Locked out of income

While NBA talks drag, those who depend on Celtics home games feel squeezed

By Johnny Diaz
Globe Staff / October 28, 2011

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With NBA owners and players fighting over how to split billions in revenues as their lockout drags on, parking lot attendant Ryan Reardon is going out less and planning to cancel his winter ski trip. Bartender Ian MacGregor has cut expenses to the “bare bones,’’ and won’t take a day off for fear he’ll lose his shift. Server Amanda Harvey is working a second job to make up for the tips she wouldn’t get on game nights.

Some NBA players have lucrative endorsement deals and other options for extra pay, but people who work at businesses near the TD Garden that depend on Celtics home games are scrambling to make up for lost income in a tough economy.

“This is our season to make money,’’ said Reardon, 25, a parking attendant in a lot on Merrimac Street about two blocks from the Garden, who counts on the $100 a night he gets when the Celtics are in town. “It’s more millions and millions for the players. They don’t realize how many people depend on those games and how this affects local businesses.’’

The lot “will be empty,’’ said Kevin Innes, 25, an attendant who works with Reardon. “Thank God the Bruins are around, because that really helps us out, but we really need the Celtics back.’’

After negotiations between the league’s owners and players association stalled earlier this month, National Basketball Association commissioner David Stern canceled the first two weeks of the season. Talks were ongoing yesterday, and could continue into the weekend. Although the possibility of reworking the schedule to get a full 82-game season was raised this week, more games could be canceled if talks drag on.

“It’s horrible,’’ said Michael Ferragamo, market manager at Tickets of Boston in Allston. Early season sales are down about 15 percent from last year, and the ticket agency had to lay off two part-time salespeople, he said.

Ferragamo now has eight employees dependent on ticket sales. “The Celtics have a great team that is in demand, so there’s money to be made,’’ he said.

MacGregor, 26, who tends bar at The Four’s on Canal Street, recently bought a condo in Somerville and really needs the extra money. He said he was already on a “bare bones’’ budget; now he won’t even take any extra days off.

“When the Celtics are playing, you know you are guaranteed a certain amount of money, and that is an extreme rare thing in the restaurant industry,’’ said MacGregor. On Celtics game nights, The Four’s gets a capacity crowd of nearly 400, and he takes in twice the usual amount in tips.

“I’m mad about it,’’ said MacGregor, “but I am going to keep showing up and doing my job’’ - as opposed to the NBA players, who he called “people who aren’t showing up to work and squabbling over pay that is far greater than most people earn.’’

For a server at The Four’s, a Celtics game can mean a $200 night in tips, as opposed to the usual $130. “You can’t help but think about it,’’ said server Jen Harvey, 25. Harvey is planning to cut back on Christmas shopping, and her twin sister Amanda, also a server at The Four’s, took a second job promoting an energy drink at local events. “It was to fill a void,’’ said Amanda Harvey, who said she lives paycheck to paycheck.

George Fitzpatrick is selling fewer T-shirts and caps at his stand outside the Haymarket MBTA station as the lockout chills fan enthusiasm. Every canceled game will mean a loss of hundreds of dollars in sales of Celtics shirts alone, he said.

Fitzpatrick, 47, pulled down most of his Celtics merchandise to offer more Bruins items, and he said the fans aren’t exactly crying about it. “If the lockout ends, we will be very happy to have the Celtics items out again,’’’ said a dispirited Fitzpatrick, “but right now, there is no demand for them.’’

At Halftime Pizza on Causeway Street, Rita Pasquale lambasted NBA players as she sprinkled cheese on dough. “It’s selfish. They should have come to an agreement already,’’ she said.

On game nights, business is 80 percent higher at the restaurant, which Pasquale’s family has owned for 30 years. Halftime stays open late, and employees dash across the street to deliver pizzas to the Garden.

Pasquale is trying to spread out the day shifts to help her employees make a little extra money during the lockout. “This was the wrong time not to come to an agreement, because it’s bad times out there,’’ she said. “We’re mad. Everyone is mad.’’

Johnny Diaz can be reached at jodiaz@globe.com.