I've been wondering about this for quite some time. I think if baseball had emerged with a better system (salary cap) then maybe, it would've showed the fans it was worth something. It would've saved the Expos, it would've controlled the Yankees. Instead, what we saw here was that we lost a year for nothing and we got worst.
If, people see the same thing here (losing a season for nothing), then I could eventually see a lot of cynicism setting in (I kinda feel like I'm there already). If a newer system (i.e. doesn't level the playing field, allows us to be more competitive etc...) comes in, then I think we'll be fine. If not and we come out struggling and other teams (Leafs and Blue Jays) grab the headlines in this city, then I'll be a little concerned, in just term of capturing peoples attention.
And I know, the counter argument will be, well basketball is growing in popularity, it's being played by young people etc. However, do all these young people in the GTA cheer for the Raptors? What's their level of disposable income? Will they be able to purchase season ticket packages in the future? merchandise? What's the corporate interest in the boxes? etc. A lot of questions.