Dean asks Predators buyers for five-year commitment

Thursday, October 25, 2007 at 2:36am

Mayor Karl Dean said Wednesday that Metro government is willing to double the money it gives to the Sommet Center if a group of local investors seeking to buy the Nashville Predators commits to keeping the team in town for five more years.

In a letter submitted for Metro to the investors group Wednesday evening, attorney Larry Thrailkill expressed optimism a solution can still be reached if the group commits to staying in Nashville for at least five years. Metro, if the team makes the commitment, would be willing to double its Sommet Center operating subsidy for that period but would demand the money back if the team later leaves.

Any deal would have to be approved by the Metro Sports Authority, however, and Authority chairman Kevin Lavender has said he believed that, per state law, an Authority meeting should have been called Wednesday in order to schedule a vote by Oct. 31, when the investor group’s purchase agreement with current Predators owner Craig Leipold expires. Lavender did not call a meeting.

In an interview, Dean said he believes the only reason to open the lease up for changes would be to do so with the intention of keeping the Predators in Nashville.

“Why would we have the team leave early and still give them more money?” Dean asked.

“I think, clearly, that David Freeman [the businessman spearheading the investors group] wants to keep the Predators in Nashville, but the documents have to reflect that desire.

“What I’m looking for is the commitment to Nashville.”

Dean reiterated that the Oct. 31 deadline was something to which Metro never agreed.

“The deadline is a deadline that exists between the two private parties, and I am willing to talk to Mr. Leipold, to talk to Mr. [Gary] Bettman [the NHL commissioner] to do whatever I can to help them if they need to get more time if conversations are useful, but that is not my deadline, and that’s for those parties to resolve.

“If they want us to be helpful, fine, but, again, my goal is this — is to keep them in town, to protect the taxpayers and to open up the lease if we can get protection [that] they’re staying in Nashville.”

Dean would not say when, exactly, he placed the five-year stipulation on the negotiating table.

Thrailkill’s letter indicates the investors group has committed to keeping the Predators in Nashville through just the 2008-2009 season.

“As we have discussed, the Mayor has indicated a willingness to support an additional operating subsidy for the Sommet Center for a period of five years, as well as the expenditure of $6,900,000 in capital expenditures, in order to assist the local owners to have a reasonable opportunity for success,” Thrailkill wrote.

“In order to justify renegotiating the current lease, a new owner must commit to provide NHL hockey in Nashville for a period longer than the team’s current obligation,” he continued, saying the current Predators-Sommet Center lease runs through the 2009-2010 hockey season.

Thrailkill said Metro provided an arena operating subsidy of about $3.2 million during the 2006-2007 fiscal year and said Metro has indicated it would be willing to more than double the amount. He emphasized that Metro also “this past year … invested almost $8,000,000 in capital improvements at the Sommet Center including the purchase of a new scoreboard.”

Chase Cole, an attorney representing the investors group, issued a statement late Wednesday saying the group “wants this team to stay forever.”

“I think everybody understands and agrees that the local group’s
intentions are honorable and that they desperately want this team to
stay in Nashville,” he said. Cole also said it is critical the team also “succeeds.”

Cole did not respond directly to any of Thrailkill’s points but, rather, discussed ticket sales.

“We agree with the mayor. No one has a ‘silver bullet’ to guarantee the Predators’ success,” Cole continued. “Just as the mayor pointed out, the city cannot guarantee ticket sales, we cannot guarantee them, either. Ultimately, our conversations with the mayor have always been based on the concept that the city and the local investors would work together to offer the community an opportunity — a second chance — to keep the NHL in town. That opportunity will always require that at least 14,000 people also want to keep the team by buying tickets to every game.”

Cole said negotiations would begin anew today.

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By: frank brown on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I doubt that the "local investors" want to be held to something that could turn out to be a liability. Five years could eat into their future profit when they sell the franchise.

By: idgaf on 12/31/69 at 6:00

With half the leauge loseing money the NHL may not exist in 5 years or be reduced.We should not be part of any negotiations. They have a contract and they should honor it.

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Sounds good to me, pay them and secure the team.

By: serr8d on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Dean: moved quickly to state his position, and seems to have a handle on the situation. Whatever happens with the Predators (stay or Leave) Dean's methodology seems correct. As a gauge of his nascent mayorality, this is a positive.Lavender: wants more meetings to schedule additional meetings, but failed to call a meeting. Who is this guy??

By: junebugfan on 12/31/69 at 6:00

How does Dean propose to fund this doubling of monetary support? Can you say property tax inctrease??? Does the five year guarantee include a guarantee of five more years of Plaster's whining, ordering people to buy tickets all day every day, and scolding them for not buying tickets? They should rename that show Predators Central. Give us a break already. I pray this deal falls through so I can pay $2 to park in the Commerce street garage when I go to Demos to eat instead of $10 when the Preds are playing. I already have to pay more property tax to support the Titans, but at least 68,000 people WANT them here.

By: hank102001 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

If the PREDS are going to be here in Nashville, Be Here!! Asking Their Fans now to Support today (2007) for 14,000 tickets for each game, and still may move in five years or less is not very rewarding for them.What would be their DEMANDS in five years to keep the Preds here?BE HERE now or MOVE ON..BRING the Grande Ole Opry back to Downtown for the Week-ends at the Sommet or back to the Opry House...

By: junebugfan on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Good call, hank102001. Here's another idea - turn that God-awful looking building (it looks like a pastry that got stepped on on one side) into an aquarium, like the one in Chattanooga. It seems to be doing pretty well, drawing in revenue from all over Tennessee. Can we get a mayor in office here who recognizes that we have KIDS in Nashville and THEY need something for them to do also? Oh, wait - THEY don't pay property taxes!

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Wow, now junebug is saying our state of the art beautiful arena is ugly. There goes his argument! LOL!

By: frank brown on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Oh my! The fanatics are not going to like what is being posted today. They want hockey and they want the majority of citizens of Davidson County (most of whom have no desire to see ice hockey) to pay for it. I have conceded that Davidson County was going to capitulate to the extortion but I did not dream that the mayor would come across with such a beautiful caveat. If the local guys agree then the fanatics get their ice hockey and I get to watch these local guys take a financial bath for a few years.

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Frank, the only fanatic here is you. But thanks for supporting the Preds. I look forward to seeing you at the game tonight.

By: WickedTribe on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Finally something I agree with Karl Dean on. I'm a Predators fan and I know that having them here (at almost any price) is better than not having them here for the city economically.However, if they want these incentives, particularly the $7 million in capital improvements, and they won't even commit to five years, tell them to hit the road!

By: junebugfan on 12/31/69 at 6:00

TITAN1 - Beautiful? Please! It looks like the Goodyear blimp was flying over lower Broad, ran into that giant spike on the corner, popped, and is in the process of deflating. Either that or a giant cibata sandwich with a huge pickle standing on end on the side. gdiafante, I'm with Frank. I'm tired of paying out the ying-yang with my tax dollars to support something that local radio stations have to chastise fans over and beg and plead for attendance, year after year after year. It's like a friggin' broken record. I would rather pay a tax increase for rent on that ugly ... building. At least that way I could listen to sports talk radio on my way to and from work every day, instead of Preds talk radio. We have over a million people in the Davidson County area - if the Preds AREN'T a fanatical, cult following, then why can't you fill the place, let alone get that precious 14,000? Why is all the whining required year after year? I don't see any big radio drives calling for fans to come to Titans games.

By: hank102001 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Let's be REAL. The "LEGENDS & STARS" of the Grande Ole' Opry fill the place out on Briley Pkwy. with their fans each week-end.They filled the OPRY HOUSE in downtown Nashville each week-end.It would be that way now. They have never had to have a "FAN RALLY" to sale tickets.They have FAN FAIR now called something else,every year. And that's sold out.MUSIC is the HEART OF NASHVILLE!!! NOT the GREED and EGOS of the TEAMS that wamt to play here in NASHVILLE..."MUSIC CITY U.S.A.

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Well good for you june, I'm sure you and Frank will be happy together. Meanwhile, enjoy the hockey.

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

june, do you have 104.5 locked in on all your presets? 106.7 has a pretty good sports station in the afternoon also. Here's your sign.

By: junebugfan on 12/31/69 at 6:00

GO Titans!

By: producer2 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

hank102001,please be serious. how many seats are at the Ryman and Opry House (here is a clue 3000 and 4200) Combine that with at least 25% comp tickets and you get a whopping 2500 seats or so. The avg. ticket price is less than $40 so the avg. gross is $100,000. For the Predators who avg. 13,800+ last season (we will use the same cost factors just for grins)that gross per game is $552,000 per game. Do I need to do the tax revenue math off of this or explain the difference for ancillary money between 2500 and 14,000 people? Is this simple math too hard for anyone?

By: frank brown on 12/31/69 at 6:00

gdiafante, I mean this as no disrepect for the Predators game tonight, but there is a great football match up on TV. I have opted to see the football game. P.S. I am but one of thousands in this area that consider football a priority and ice hockey a novelty. This has been the problem for ice hockey in Nashville through several ice hockey teams. gdiafante, this is football country. The masses love football and the small party of ice hockey cultist want the masses to underwrite & subsidize their sport. Free enterprise can do whatever in the name of "potential" success.. When you dip into the public coffers it is my perogative to voice my displeasure as many times as you & those like you voice your support.

By: OneTimer on 12/31/69 at 6:00

wow, not only do you guys have computers to post your . . . um . . . interesting viewpoints with, you are out on the roads, driving right next to me, in line at the grocery with me . . . I'm scared.

By: junebugfan on 12/31/69 at 6:00

TITAN1, I actually prefer 106.7 (preset #2 -fyi)in the afternoon, 104.5 (preset #1)in the morning. Thom Abraham is great. Problem is, I can't stand commercials. Don't watch them on tv, don't listen to them on radio. Since all the music on the radio today is crap, I tend to switch over to 104.5 during commercial breaks on 106.7. Don't have a clue why I do it. Must be in to self torture. Never fails that Plaster is boo-hooing about "you should be ASHAMED of yourselves for not coming out and supporting this team, etc., etc., blah, blah, blah, blah...". By the way, I've got a great idea. In the boom of new buildings/businesses/attractions popping up everywhere downtown, the number of available parking spaces seems to be growing smaller and smaller. How about wiping that ugly building off the map, building a city-run multi-level parking garage that will meet the parking needs of the new convention center, the symphany hall, and all of downtown? That would generate some revenue and get rid of an eye sore. And enough about the revenue loss if the Preds leave. I haven't noticed any additional revenue in MY pocket generated by them.

By: hank102001 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Producer2ONE thing the OPRY is that's it's YEAR ROUND 365 DAYS.NO DOWN TIME for the season to "START UP. If U were never in Nashville during the time of OPRY in downtown Nashville U probally do not know what it was like then. People planned their vacation around the opry year round. Hotel,motels were full, miles around Nashville.I'm not going to preach $$$.The $$$ then were "STEADY".

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 6:00

"gdiafante, this is football country."Tell that to the Kats.I'll never understand why hockey offends you so. It's really not a contest between football and hockey, and it's pretty stupid to compare the two.

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 6:00

If I'm not mistaken, aren't the Titans the recipient of subsidies as well? Where is your outrage, or are you admitting that, even in football country, the Titans wouldn't be able to do it on their own?

By: hank102001 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Not sure about the $100.000 was for a week-end or not. But if it was for that time period.$100.000X52 week-ends comes to 5,200.000 for a year...

By: OneTimer on 12/31/69 at 6:00

hank, WHERE are your sporadic CAPS in your last post? i MISS them.

By: producer2 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Hank,first the Opry is OWNED by Gaylord, not the city as is the Ryman so all of the money goes to them. Second it is $100,000 per show so that would be $200,000 per weekend or $10,400,000 gross (again this money goes to Gaylord after expenses, etc.) and the Predators gross revenue on tickets is $24,800,000 on tickets give or take a million or two. Now the ticket tax for the Preds is 4.2% higher than any other ticketed event downtown and the city gets some revenue from concessions, etc. at the building. They get NOTHING from the Ryman as it is owned and operated by Gaylord. do you see a pattern here? The City owns the arena and private industry owns both the Opry and the venue it plays in.

By: BigPapa on 12/31/69 at 6:00

The titans are in a totally different situation. They CAN make it on their own, it's just that the NFL is such a sought after product that they can make crazy demands. Hockey is the opposite. They are shunned and can not make it on their own w/o tax dollars.

By: idgaf on 12/31/69 at 6:00

The spin from the jock-sniffers is really getting old. If there was enough of them they wouldn't need us to mooch from.They can't even draw enough to get revenue sharing and a lot of them don't even live here.

By: OneTimer on 12/31/69 at 6:00

The spin from idgaf is really getting old. If there were more of him there wouldn't be anything left to complain about. The Preds have always drawn enough for revenue sharing and they all live here. How can they play here for seven months out of the year and not live here!?!? Please, please know what you are talking about before you post. But knowing nothing of what you speak hasn't stopped you yet.

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Onetimer, just stop paying attention to him, he knows not what he speaks.But he did spell "Sharing" correctly so maybe there's hope...

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 6:00

"They are shunned..."LOL!!! Is this from personal experience? LOL

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Well what do you know, Papa is ok with tax money going to the Titans because it’s the NFL. I knew there was a little socialist just dying to get out of you.

By: BigPapa on 12/31/69 at 6:00

No I'm not Ok with it. I wish the NFL didn't behave this way because of all the sports leagues the NFL can afford to pay it's own way. I'm simply stating WHY they do. It's not out of necessity, it's out of pure greed.

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 6:00

If Nashville didn’t offer concessions, they wouldn’t even be considered. So the greed is also on the part of Nashville, who wants to reap the benefits of that moneymaker known as the NFL. And they are willing to sell out the taxpayer to do so. Just wait until Bud wants a new stadium and see how fast Metro gives away the bank.Although, if you actually go to Titans games, the seats are never completely filled, even though it’s a sellout. Now what does that say about “football country”?

By: idgaf on 12/31/69 at 6:00

By: gdiafante on 10/25/07 If Nashville didn’t offer concessions, they wouldn’t even be considered.*******************************8Spoken like a true jock-sniffer.I would rather have the tax-paying businesses there then the freeloaders that cost us at least 22 million a year for 10 days.

By: producer2 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

That would be taxes on 1.2 million tickets per year for both teams. Roughly $8 million in seat taxes. How many of those businesses pay that kind of money to the city?

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Id, and I presume that's short for idiot, are you saying that Nashville would be considered by major sports franchises without concessions?If so, please provide evidence.

By: idgaf on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Lets see it cost us at least 2.2 million a game to get their great benifits.(lmao)What do you think would do more for our economey that 2.2 million per game or dumping a million dollars one day a month from helicopters and saving money to boot?That should stimulate the economy and attract "real visitors" not mainly the locals from outside the country for their free ride.

By: BigPapa on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Look at LA, they know the NFL is dying to get in that TV market but they have held strong and refused to give big tax money.The cities should take a clue from them and start to make these guys pay their own way. The one saving grace of the titans deal is that we did get a chance to vote on it. So whether it's a bad deal or not, the typical citizen get get to voice an opinion.

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Not really papa, if the NFL wanted a franchise in LA they'd have one. "locals from oustide the country"You really are not that bright.

By: idgaf on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Brighter then you are jock-sniffer.

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I doubt that very much.

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Would you like to discuss this in person?

By: OneTimer on 12/31/69 at 6:00

the name calling is just the best. feels like 5th grade all over again.

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 6:00

You're too kind to him onetimer, I doubt he got that far.

By: OneTimer on 12/31/69 at 6:00

yeah, I thought he might respond with me being a 5th-grade-drop-out-jock-sniffer. but he's not that clever.

By: BigPapa on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Jacksonville might be the next rumored to move to LA.

By: producer2 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Buffalo to LA

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

idgaf to LA!

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

gdiafante, you are letting him do it again. idgaf is trying to drag you down to his level.