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MLB Locks Out Players as New TV Deals Set to Start in 2022

Major League Baseball locks out players for first time in a quarter century after the league and players association fail to strike a collective bargaining deal.
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Major League Baseball officially locked out its players for the first time in a quarter century Thursday after the league and the MLB Players Association failed to strike a new collective bargaining deal. 

The lockout marks the end of one of the longest periods of labor peace the MLB has enjoyed since an independent arbitrator ruled in favor of free agency in December 1975.

"Today is a difficult day for baseball, but as I have said all year, there is a path to a fair agreement, and we will find it," Baseball Commissioner Robert Manfred said. 

"I remain optimistic that both sides will seize the opportunity to work together to grow, protect, and strengthen the game we love."

Manfred says that the decision to lock out the players in the offseason is the best mechanism to bring the player's union to the table and avoid the loss of any games in 2022. 

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The possibility of the first lockout since the sport lost the entire 1994 season and part of the 1995 season had been discussed for years leading up to Thursday, and MLB has been preparing.

In September 2020, MLB and Turner Sports reached a seven-year, $3.75 billion television contract rights extension that represented a 65% increase of the pair's previous deal. 

Then in May 2021, the league reached a seven-year deal with Disney's  (DIS) - Get Walt Disney Company Report ESPN that will total $3.85 billion. Both deal's are scheduled to start in 2022. 

Requests for comment from Turner Sports and ESPN were not immediately returned. 

The economic fallout from a prolonged labor stoppage could be wide-ranging if stadiums are dark come the spring. Concession staples from beverage companies like PepsiCo  (PEP) - Get PepsiCo, Inc. Report, Coca-Cola  (KO) - Get Coca-Cola Company Report, Anheuser-Busch  (BUD) - Get Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV Report and Constellation Brands  (STZ) - Get Constellation Brands, Inc. Class A Report could be under pressure without games.