Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 01/07/13 at 05:51 PM ET
from Fitch Ratings,
Fitch believes the decision by the National Hockey League (NHL) and the NHL Players' Association to end the lockout and restart the season is positive for arenas and the sport. The tentative 10-year agreement (with an opt-out clause for both sides after eight years) must still be ratified by both sides. A 48-50 game season (usually 82 games per team) is expected to begin between Jan. 15-19 depending on when the new collective bargaining agreement is finalized. In total, the league missed approximately 500 games, including the NHL's Winter Classic and All-Star games.
While a potentially brand damaging full-season stoppage was averted, Fitch still has concerns related to possible harmful long-term effects to the NHL brand and fan support. NHL franchises have a solid dedicated arena fan base, as demonstrated by solid arena attendance after the 2004-2005 season work stoppage. However, fan attendance and corporate support for the 2013 season, as well as 2013-2014, could be materially different, given the combination of weak and uncertain national and regional economic conditions and various sport entertainment options.
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