From Rod Fort:
"They will come back," said Rodney Fort, a sports economist at the University of Michigan. "And in fact, we may not even notice any difference."Rod summarises much of the research in this area concisely in this one sentence. There may be short term impacts (playing a truncated 48 game season is bound to 'hurt' when compared with what is usually an 82 game season) but the evidence shows that attendances bounce back very shortly afterwards. I especially like Victor's quote:
"Sports really depend on getting people hooked on the drug, and the NHL has now given hockey fans three opportunities to go through detox," said Victor Matheson, a professor of economics at the College of the Holy Cross. "There's a real question about how much you can do that before you have fans say, 'You know, I have a lot of things I can do with $1,500 besides buy a season-ticket package.' "But they keep coming back. I guess that's why sports has such longevity and is regarded by some as 'recession-proof' - perhaps absence really does make the heart grow fonder (or maybe that fans have long memories). I wonder if the relationship between labour stoppages and attendance differs between cities with perennial contenders (Detroit and Chicago, for example) when compared to less successful franchises? It would sure be interesting to analyse.