Mayor Karl Dean and the local investors trying to buy the Nashville Predators may have moved a millimeter closer to a deal on a new lease on the Sommet Center.
Dean apparently has backed off seeking a five-year commitment to keep the team here and has agreed to three years. That is, if the team loses $20 million in the three years, the Predators can bolt Nashville.
A three-year commitment would seem like a big step and that an announcement would be smooth skating from here. But the pond hasn’t frozen over yet and everyone is treading water.
There may be an agreement in principle but Dean isn’t saying and his office is denying there is a deal.
When and whether anything gets announced is anyone’s guess. For several weeks now, it’s been “close.” The talk has been that a deal would be announced within the next 48 hours. That was 24 hours ago.
What’s the hold up now? No one is saying. A good guess would be that attorneys are pondering it all. And more than likely it’s the city’s attorneys, public and private, who are doing the pondering.
This has been going on since Dean came into office on Sept. 22. With David Freeman, chief executive officer of 36 Venture Capital, in the lead, the local guys say they need additional concessions, valued at about $3 million each year, so the team can at least break even and be competitive.
The $20 million isn’t just a random figure. That’s the credit line the investors would have and if they blow through it there would be some difficulties. The ticket sale requirement goes away in the lease but it’s still there with the league in terms of revenue sharing. If the team doesn’t hit the mark, it loses money, which could easily add up to $20 million.
There have been fits and starts that have included some political jockeying, inopportune vacations, a measure of legal wrangling and the distraction from Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie who Predators owner Craig Leipold kicked to the curb.
Predators fans have been sitting on pins and needles waiting for something to happen so any little tidbit whips them into a frenzy as they try to analyze the dearth of information. It also gives Councilman Michael Craddock another opportunity to lament those millionaires buying the team and trying to tap taxpayers for more money.