It was a sad day in New York City when the decision was made to shut down Broadway. Once a big draw for tourists, empty theaters have kept visitors out of the city over the past year.
But now, city officials are making plans for Broadway to light up once again. Late last month, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced he's aiming to reopen Broadway in September. The mayor also has a plan to vaccinate theater workers so shows can begin running again this fall.
A devastating loss for New York
In a normal year, the theater industry creates nearly 100,000 jobs and is responsible for close to $15 billion of New York City's economy. In the absence of Broadway, the city has been starved for revenue, and its unemployment rate has been notably higher than the national average.
Initially, it was announced that Broadway would remain shuttered until at least May 2021. Given where we're at with the coronavirus vaccine rollout, it's clear that that timeline will continue to hold. But if theaters are able to open in September, it would be a huge boon to the city.
For one thing, Broadway tends to draw in tourists, and once performances start opening, New York City hotels could see a much-needed influx of revenue. Not only that, but local businesses could see a nice uptick in customers. Restaurants in the theater district are apt to welcome more diners, while local shops could see sales pick up.
Opening Broadway might also inspire more renters to return to the city. In the wake of the pandemic, there's been a mass exodus out of Manhattan as city dwellers swapped their shoebox-sized apartments for more spacious suburban abodes. After all, there was little sense in paying a premium to rent in New York City if nightlife was virtually canceled.
But as the city opens back up, rental demand could begin to soar. That would, in turn, be a very good thing for Manhattan landlords, many of whom have had to offer concessions like free rent over the past year in an effort to get leases signed.
Similarly, the reopening of Broadway could inspire more companies to bring staff back to the office. After all, if it's safe enough to let theater enthusiasts gather under the same roof, then it's possible to bring employees back, especially in stages. That attitude would surely benefit Manhattan office building landlords, who have been dealing with record-high vacancies.
The Millionacres bottom line
Of course, we shouldn't expect Broadway to be business as usual this September. Theaters will most likely operate with capacity limits, the same way movie theaters can only welcome a limited number of guests. Furthermore, the city will need to figure out a means of crowd control in its often-packed theater district, and proof of vaccination may or may not be required for patrons to see a show. But either way, the fact that Mayor de Blasio has set a timeline for Broadway to open back up is a positive thing, and it could be the start of Manhattan's long-awaited revival.