Business doubles at Sharky's Cafe in Latrobe the three weeks every July and August that the Steelers attend training camp. Fans hit the restaurant across Route 981 from Saint Vincent College for lunch before the daily 3 p.m. practices start, then get out of the sun and pour back into the dark, friendly restaurant and U-shaped bar each night.
Should the lockout imposed by the National Football League persist that long, "it would be horrible," said bartender Jared Allison of Blairsville, who has been there during the past three camps.

"It would take a big chunk out of all the local businesses," said Sharky's manager Tom Hill, a 36-year-old Latrobe native who has worked at the bar 11 years. "A labor dispute would put a hurt on us as much as anybody in the area."

Both the NFL and its players have said they want a swift resolution to the lockout owners imposed early Saturday, triggered when talks with the NFL Players Association bogged down and the union decertified. Neither side is currently talking about the dispute stretching six months into the early September kickoff of the season, or of it affecting preceding training camps.

Still, it is the league's worst labor situation since the union struck in 1987. And the union has been preparing for an extended lockout for months, warning fans of the economic impacts a lockout would have on cities, stadium workers and the hospitality industry if it endures.

The union claimed in December that Pittsburgh and the 31 other league cities would suffer $160 million in lost job and tax revenue if there is no 2011 season. Economists and league officials scoffed at the number -- the league's spokesman called the claims "fairy tales" -- but certainly some parts of Pittsburgh's regional economy would suffer.
That includes toaster sales.

There are two big times of year for the Hometown Fan Club memorabilia store in the Latrobe 30 Shoppes east of the Saint Vincent campus -- Christmas and training camp. In addition to jerseys and other apparel, the biggest seller lately as been the Steelers Pro Toaster, which sizzles the Steelers logo onto bread, said Nick Piper, 17, who worked his first training camp season last summer.

Many of the same fans come back to Latrobe year after year, staying in the same hotels and patronizing the same restaurants, hoping to bump into Steelers players or coaches. Amy Templeton, the manager at DeNunzio's Italian Chophouse at the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport -- on a ridge across Route 30 from the Saint Vincent campus -- sees the cars fill up the roasting college parking lots every summer.
"I wouldn't watch practice if you paid me, but people are really into it," she said.
Dino's Sports Lounge has hosted training camp fans for 22 years and is hoping it won't experience its first summer without one, said general manager Ron Auld.
"People are in disbelief this is even a problem. Everybody [on both sides of the dispute] has a lot of money, and that shouldn't prohibit the season," he said.


If, and we don't know how long yet this lockout will go on, it's sad to think about all the local businesses that will lose money if the Steelers aren't around. Every NFL city will suffer the same type of loss, but it always hits home when it happens to someone or something that your close too.

We all love going to Latrobe every summer to training camp, and Latrobe loves it too. The local economy benefits greatly as we read in that article, and seeing the little guys get hurt by this makes it even more real. Let's face it, when you talk about players who make a 6,7,8 figures a year in annual salary, having a work stoppage for a few months doesn't seem quite as bad (from a financial standpoint, and yes I know the health benefits are a big deal). When you talk about "Joe hotdog vendor" or "Sally diner owner", you realize just how important the Steelers are to economy in and around Pittsburgh.

This labor dispute could be settled in a couple weeks or it could take months. Every media "expert" has on opinion right now so all we can do is wait.