Damage control: What the NHL can learn from business

The NHL needs to win back hockey fans after its 113-day lockout. We offer seven businesses that went through crises, and how they patched things up with their customers.

NBA's lockout
business crisis nba lockout 1999

Yes, the NHL can learn something from the NBA, which itself has a noxious history of lockouts. In the 1998-99 season, the NBA lost three months to spatting owners and players before finally settling on a 50-game schedule -- one depressingly similar to the NHL's likely 48-game conciliation for 2013. Back then, the NBA was worried about winning back apathetic fans. A USA Today/Gallup poll found that 53% of fans missed games just a little, or not at all. So owners went on the offensive. Two exhibition games were free before the season started, and teams had to open at least one scrimmage to fans. The next season, all teams were required to sell 500 tickets a game for 10 bucks. Nets president Michael Rowe told USA Today, "We're not taking for granted that fans have been sitting waiting for us." The NHL might share his thinking.

  @FortuneMagazine - Last updated January 10 2013 09:13 AM ET
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