Silver lining: Northeast drought benefits some businesses



There’s a silver lining to the drought affecting the Northeastern United States that has frustrated farmers, dried up rivers and reservoirs, and led to water use restrictions and bushfires in the region.

The arid conditions have benefited amusement parks, minor league baseball teams, construction contractors and other businesses that need hot, dry weather to attract paying customers and complete jobs on time. .

While several factors have affected the bottom line this summer, including inflation, staff shortages and supply chain issues, some companies say yes, things are generally good, partly due to the weather.

“Sunny days at the ballpark are the best days,” said Geoff Iacuessa, president and general manager of the Portland Sea Dogs minor league baseball team, which sees less precipitation and higher attendance.

Large swathes of northeast Pennsylvania to Maine are experiencing drought conditions, according to the US Drought Monitor. Part of the southern New Hampshire region, through much of eastern Massachusetts and including nearly all of Rhode Island and eastern Connecticut is suffering extreme drought conditions, the fourth worst of five drought stages .

In some areas, rainfall amounts over the past 90 days are about 15 centimeters below normal, according to the Drought Monitor.

The Sea Dogs, the Maine-based Double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, average more than 5,700 fans per game, and while season-to-season attendance comparisons are imprecise, that’s about 100 more per game than in the pre-pandemic years of 2018 and 2019, Iacuessa said. The 2020 season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and home court capacity was limited at the start of last season.

Another advantage of warm weather: sales of beer, water and ice cream are soaring.

At Groundskeeper Inc., a commercial landscaping company in Ashland, Massachusetts, the dry weather allowed the team to do a lot more work, especially in what is called landscaping. landscaping – the installation of patios, walkways, retaining walls and the like – said company president Brian Churchill.

Working with concrete, mortar and brick adhesives is nearly impossible in constant rain, he said.

“I would say it’s been a very productive year,” said Churchill, who is also the past president of the Massachusetts Association of Landscape Professionals. “No rainy days, no schedule delays. We are able to work five days a week and do a lot of work.

And that benefits everyone.

“When you’re on schedule and developers can meet closing dates, they have happy customers, they get money in the bank, we get money in the bank, and that means everyone is happy,” he said.

There is, however, a downside for landscapers during drought, said Miriam Hellweg, maintenance manager at Blade of Grass LLC, a landscaping company in Sudbury, Massachusetts.

“Drought is stressful for plants, so first we have more plants dying,” she said. “The other thing is that with a drought the plants don’t grow as much, so we don’t mow as much.”

The weather, along with an increase in self-imposed capacity restrictions put in place to prevent overcrowding, helped attract more people to Santa’s Village, a Christmas-themed amusement park in Jefferson, New Hampshire, said Jim Miller, spokesman for the 15-acre family establishment.

“Everyone likes perfect weather, and we’ve been at full capacity almost every day,” he said.

The park founded in 1953 only sells advance tickets online. So when families check the weather forecast days before booking their visit, all they’ve seen this summer is blue skies, he said.

The drought has been a mixed bag for Tom Bukowski, owner of Safari Golf, a miniature golf course in Berlin, Connecticut. Yes, dry weather is good for business, but brutal heat can be detrimental. Connecticut experienced a six-day stretch in July when temperatures were 90 degrees Fahrenheit or higher and another eight-day stretch in early August with temperatures over 90 degrees.

“If it’s too hot, few people play, but it’s still better than rain because when it rains, no one comes out,” he said.

Business this year has been tempered by inflation, he said. In the past, the whole family played. He noticed that this year parents are paying for their children, but sitting down to save a little.

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