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Q: SO WHY HAS BASEBALL BEEN FREE FROM LABOR STRIFE OF LATE?
A: It's likely not a coincidence that the three major U.S. leagues with salary caps all have had turmoil. Since the 1994-95 strike, baseball players and owners have concluded agreements without stoppages in 2002, 2006 and last year, finding that they can make concessions in certain areas in exchange for gains in others. The sports with the cap systems appear somewhat more restricted, with less areas of back-and-forth since the basic structure is in place.
Q: WAS THE NHL HURT BY THE LAST LOCKOUT?
A: Attendance did not suffer at all, lending credence to the notion that hockey has a committed fan base that will retain its season tickets. The league's regular-season average increased from 16,534 in 2003-04 to 16,954 in 2005-06, according to STATS LLC, and was 17,454 last season. Only seven teams experienced substantial decreases from 2003-04 to 2005-06: Columbus (17,369 to 16,796), Dallas (18,355 to 17,829), Edmonton (17,678 to 16,833), New Jersey (15,060 to 14,230), the New York Islanders (13,456 to 12,609), St. Louis (18,560 to 14,213) and Washington (14,720 to 13,905). In contrast, Major League Baseball has larger venues and nearly twice as many games and is far more reliant on single-game sales. After the 1994-95 strike, MLB's average attendance didn't recover to its pre-walkout level until 2007.
Q: HOW ABOUT THE NHL's WIDER AUDIENCE, AS MEASURED BY TELEVISION RATINGS?
A: Tampa Bay's win over Calgary in the 2004 Stanley Cup finals averaged 3.3 million viewers on ABC and ESPN, according to Nielsen Media Research, while Carolina's victory over Edmonton in 2006 averaged 2.8 million on NBC and OLN. Average viewers rose to 5.2 million on NBC and Versus when Chicago beat Philadelphia in 2010, then fell to 4.6 million on the same networks for Boston's victory over Vancouver in 2011 and 3 million on NBC and the NBC Sports Network for Los Angeles' win over New Jersey this year. Just for comparison with other leagues, last February's Super Bowl was seen by 111 million people and the World Series and NBA Finals each averaged more than 16 million viewers.
Q: HOW LONG WOULD A LOCKOUT LAST?
A: There's no telling, of course, but a settlement that would allow a midseason start figures to be a goal. The Winter Classic between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs is scheduled for Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor on Jan. 1, and the All-Star game is slated for Columbus, Ohio, on Jan. 27. This year's Winter Classic, a 3-2 win by the New York Rangers over Philadelphia at Citizens Bank Park, averaged 3.74 million viewers on NBC and was the fifth-most watched regular-season NHL game in 37 years. This year's All-Star game was seen by 1.3 million on NBC Sports Network. In an indication of how much training time is needed, the 1994-95 lockout ended on Jan. 11 and the season started nine days later.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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