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Sunday, December 26, 2020

bats tackles hoops pucks
With collective bargaining agreements on the minds of hockey fans (those who haven’t succumbed to total apathy, anyway), this Sporting News comparison of the recent/current CBAs in the NHL, MLB, NBA and NFL offers a useful shorthand reference on how players and owners coexist in the major sports leagues. It also includes various tidbits of related info, like attendance numbers and TV ratings.

Given that the content is syndicated on Yahoo!, and thus has a likely short online shelf life, I’m going to reproduce the factual information here. The editorial “Is it working?” parts I’ll leave out, not because I disagree with their conclusions (although mostly, I do, especially on the soon-to-be-deadlocked NBA), but because I figure they’re most subject to any copyright issues. By all means, follow the link to read them if you’re interested in the interpretations.

National Hockey Leaguepucks
Teams: 30
Players per team: 23
CBA expired: September 15, 2021
Highest-paid player: $11 million, Jaromir Jagr, Rangers
Average salary: $1.81 million
Most valuable franchise: Rangers, $282 million
Average payroll: $41.6 million
Players’ share of revenue: 75 percent
League revenue: $2 billion
Average attendance: 16,533 (includes record crowd of 57,167 at outdoor game in Edmonton)
Salary cap: None
Payroll tax: None
TV deal: TV revenues from national contracts in the U.S. and Canada are shared equally; last season, that was about $4 million per team. As for the new deal signed with NBC, “If the NHL sees a penny from NBC, it’s only because the guys at NBC are good guys,” a FOX executive told Alan Hahn of Newsday.
TV audience: 1.1 rating on ABC, 0.47 on ESPN and 0.24 on ESPN2
Revenue sharing: 10 percent
Free-agent system: Players become restricted after their first entry-level contract, unrestricted after turning 31 if they have at least four years of NHL experience.
Rookie system: 2004 draft picks had a rookie cap of $1.295 million and can’t sign anything longer than a three-year deal; excessive and easy-to-attain performance bonuses have made the cap ineffective.



Major League Baseballbats
Teams: 30
Players per team: 25
CBA expires: December 17, 2021
Highest-paid player: $22.5 million, Manny Ramirez, Red Sox
Average salary: $2.5 million
Most valuable franchise: Yankees, $832 million
Average payroll: $68.1 million
Players’ share of revenue: 63 percent
MLB revenue: $4.1 billion
Average attendance: 30,401
Salary cap: None
Payroll tax: In 2004, first offenders were taxed 22.5 percent for anything above $120.5 million; second offenders paid 30 percent.
TV deal: The league has a six-year, $2.5 billion deal with FOX through 2006 and a six-year, $851 million deal with ESPN through 2005.
TV audience: 2.7 rating on FOX, 1.1 on ESPN and 0.6 on ESPN2
Revenue sharing: 34 percent of local revenue, including gate receipts, is shared equally among the teams.
Free-agent system: Players who have six or more seasons of experience become unrestricted after their contracts expire.
Rookie system: None


National Basketball Associationhoops
Teams: 30
Players per team: 15 (12 active)
CBA expires: June 30, 2021
Highest-paid player: $29.5 million, Shaquille O’Neal, Heat
Average salary: $4.92 million
Most valuable franchise: Lakers, $447 million
Average payroll: $59 million
Players’ share of revenue: 57 percent
League revenue: $3.1 billion
Average attendance: 17,050
Salary cap: A complex system of sliding caps is the base. Effectively, the soft cap for 2003-04 was $43.9 million, extending to an average of $59 million after free-agent exceptions.
Payroll tax: Teams are taxed one dollar for each dollar over $54.6 million, but only if leaguewide salaries exceed a specific percentage of revenue.
TV deal: A six-year, $4.6 billion deal with ABC, ESPN and TNT brings each team $25.5 million each season.
TV audience: 2.4 rating on ABC, 1.3 on ESPN, 0.9 on ESPN2 and 1.4 on TNT
Revenue sharing: 35 percent of total revenues
Free-agent system: Players are eligible for contract extensions after three years, become restricted free agents after four (they can be unrestricted if the team does not pick up the option) and are unrestricted after five.
Rookie system: Fixed three-year contracts for first-round picks are figured on a sliding scale based on where players were selected in the draft; contracts have two option years, though the second rarely is used.


National Football Leaguetackles
Teams: 32
Players per team: 53 (45 active)
CBA expires: After the 2008 draft; 2007 is an uncapped season
Highest-paid player: $17.8 million, Peyton Manning, Colts (note: Michael Vick’s recently reworked contract probably puts him in the top spot)
Average salary: $1.25 million
Most valuable franchise: Redskins, $1.1 billion
Average payroll: $71.8 million
Players’ share of revenue: 64 percent
League revenue: $4.8 billion
Average attendance: 66,817
Salary cap: $80.58 million (64.75 percent of gross league revenues)
Salary floor: $67.3 million
Payroll tax: None
TV deal: An eight-year, $17.6 billion deal with ABC, CBS, FOX and ESPN expires after 2005. The deal gives each team $78 million (a six-year extension was signed November 8 by FOX and CBS; FOX will pay $4.3 billion for NFC games, CBS will pay $3.7 billion for AFC games). The NFL also has $3.5 billion satellite deal with DirecTV.
TV audience: 9.0 rating on CBS, 9.9 on FOX, 7.1 on ESPN and 11.0 on ABC.
Revenue sharing: 80 percent of all gate receipts, among other things, are spread evenly among the teams.
Free-agent system: Players who have four years of experience become unrestricted after their contracts expire. Teams can retain a key free agent by designating him a franchise player and paying him the average of the top five salaries at his position.
Rookie system: There is no limit for top draft picks.

While direct comparisons among the four can distort unavoidable inequities — for instance, baseball and football naturally have higher average attendance than hoops and hockey because of larger stadia — this gives a good once-over to the team-based major sports landscape. It’s especially useful for me regarding the NBA’s agreement: I was vaguely familiar with the changes from what they used to have, but I never did see a capsule version.

Again, this is just a snapshot look. A deeper dig might shed some light on how things like overall league revenue is calculated, and how salary/contract arbitration factors in.

Who’s got the best? Based on most measures of success, the NFL comes out on top (and Sporting News editor Paul Grant says as much in the “Is it working” notation). As I’ve mentioned before, a key reason for this is probably the nature of the NFL payroll: Composed overwhelmingly of non-guaranteed player contracts, it’s very easy for clubs to make payroll adjustments. In addition, each team’s cut of the leagues television money alone covers the payroll cap figure, so that guarantees success. I’m curious to see how the 2007 uncapped season will work (if they get there — the players and owners might work out a new CBA before then, which would supplant that final year).

I guess the similarities strike me more than anything. The NFL and MLB have comparable league revenues, for instance, despite starkly different schedules and labor setups. We’ll see how the next deals for the NHL and NBA change the makeup.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 12/26/2004 09:01:24 PM
Category: SportsBiz | Permalink |

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