Empty Seats or Empty Threats? Examining the Effects of the 1994-1995 and 2004-2005 Lockouts on Attendance and Revenue in the National Hockey League

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Labor-related work stoppages in professional sports have the potential to alienate fans—but whether they generate sustained reductions in demand remains an open question. Existing evidence generally indicates work stoppages may negatively impact attendance but only for a short period of time. Focusing on the 1994, 2004, and 2012 lockouts in the National Hockey League, this article finds evidence consistent with sustained decreases in attendance following the 1994-1995 lockout and revenue following the 2004-2005 and 2012-2013 lockouts. Back-of-the-envelope estimates suggest work stoppages may still be optimal even if there is a sustained negative impact on fan demand.


Journal of Sports Economics