Football has gone as far as any pro sport in sharing its revenues, splitting equally its take from national television contracts and product licensing. Also, visiting teams get 40 percent of the gate receipts.
In baseball, by contrast, gate receipts are weighted heavily toward the home team -- 80 percent in the American League. Licensing and national television revenues also are shared, but, compared with football, baseball depends more on local media and gate revenues than national television deals.
Basketball and hockey teams also share national television and licensing revenues, but not gate receipts or local broadcast fees.
Ravitch won't discuss what baseball owners will seek in bargaining, but one source familiar with the emerging plan said it will contain elements of the football deal, including a salary cap. Baseball players already have free agency.
One league executive, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said there also will be an attempt at the same time to try persuading team owners to share more of their revenues, eliminating the situation in which player payrolls of some teams exceed the total revenues of others.
Mark Belanger of the Major League Baseball Players Association said the idea of a salary cap has been brought up in joint study sessions with team owners, but he is not convinced it is necessary.
"I'm not sure that is the proper approach," he said. "The market that is out there is controlled by the owners."
Art of the deals
A look at the major components in the collective bargaining agreements for the four major professional sports leagues (NFL's deal is tentative):
.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. NFL Free agency: After five years in the league, eventually dropping four years.
Salary cap: Limits total team payroll at 62 to 64 percent of designated team revenue, dropping over the term of the contract. Salaries now average 57 percent of team revenues.
) Average salary: $501,000.
.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. NBA Free agency: After four years.
Salary cap: 53 percent of designated team revenues.
Average salary: $1.2 million.
.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. Major League Baseball Free agency: After six years. Players with three to five years' experience can submit salary dispute with a team to arbitration.
Salary cap: None, but total player salaries now equal about 50 percent of baseball revenues.
.` Average salary: $1.08 million.
.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. NHL Free agency: Very restricted. For example, a 10-year veteran who has not earned more than the NHL average over the past five seasons can elect once in a career to become an unrestricted free agent.
Salary cap: None. During last summer's strike, the league estimated total player payrolls equaled 51 percent of team revenues, according to an NBA-like formula.
) Average salary: $379,000.