Preds rally sparks over 700 ticket sales

Friday, July 20, 2007 at 12:43am

If there were any doubts that Nashville is a hockey town, they were dispelled on a hot July day.

More than 7,500 rowdy fans attended a rally Thursday night at the Sommet Center to “Save the Predators.” The event was the highlight of an all-day ticket-thon that produced almost 800 new sales in season tickets and partial season tickets.

“We left the air with 714 tickets sold, but I think we will have final tally of between 750 and 800,” said George Plaster, sports director of 104.5 The Zone, one of the main supporters of the ticket-thon and rally. “I really feel great. There was a lot of work put into this by a lot of people. I know I have never worked harder on a project.

“I’m stunned at the response. This has been a great day for hockey in Nashville.”

The tickets were bought by a cross-section of the Middle Tennessee area with tickets being sold in both the lower and upper bowls. The mix included both full season tickets and partial season tickets.

“This had exceeded all expectations,” said Ron Samuels, chairman of the Our Team group and chairman of Avenue Bank. “We set a goal and kind of challenged each other that 300 would be successful and 500 would be knocking it out of the park. Everybody is excited about this.

“It has been a widespread grassroots and business effort. A lot of the lower bowl has sold and that is very encouraging. We are very much appreciative of everybody’s support.”

The ticket-thon and rally were broadcast beginning at 6 a.m. and continued until 9 p.m. on 104.5 The Zone, the Predators’ flagship station. There was a steady stream of fans all day long at the Sommet Center.

Future looks bright

David Freeman, Herb Fritch, Sam Bartholomew, and Chase Cole — members of the local group trying to purchase the Predators — were all present for the rally.

Freeman had said earlier in the week that his group would be closely watching the rally. He and Cole and other members of the group met with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman Wednesday morning.

“We are all extremely pleased with the rally, but it was not unexpected,” Freeman, CEO of 36 Venture Capital. “As we told the commissioner, there is no question in our minds that the City of Nashville wants to keep this club, and given the opportunity the city will do that. And we are well on our way.

“The nice thing is everything is in the hands of Nashville residents now. Everything that needs to happen we control. We certainly owe Craig Leipold a tremendous thank you for showing that faith in us as a community and his willingness to take a risk on us. He has given us this shot. He is willing to see what we are going to do with it.”

Governor Phil Bredesen said he was at the event to support his wife, Andrea Conte. Bredesen was instrumental in bringing the Predators to Nashville when he was mayor. He and his wife are both hockey fans.

“We had four season tickets, but Andrea bought four more during the rally,” said Bredesen. “She got carried away. We are going to have to find some more friends.”

Conte was one of the featured speakers at the rally. She echoed the sentiment of everyone in attendance that Hamilton, Ontario, and Kansas City, Mo., can have NHL teams, but they can’t take Nashville’s away.

“I was more involved here as a fan,” Bredesen said. “My wife has been involved with this and I am really here as her spouse.

“We have three major league sports teams in this state and I am supportive of them all. But as Governor I need to keep more distance from it. But as a fan, it is after 5 o’clock. I don’t mind taking my Governor’s hat off and coming out here and being part of the crowd.”

Bredesen said he was willing to help the local ownership group as much as possible, but that he has to be careful with his involvement.

“I can’t use the Governor’s office for that,” Bredesen said. “But as an individual, and certainly as someone who was up to his eyebrows in getting the team here in the first place, I am going to work to keep the team here.

“If it means going up and talking to Gary Bettman, I am willing to do that. These teams are good for their cities. I think it is important that they stay here. I would do the same thing for the other two teams.”

Bredesen plans to meet with the local ownership group sometime next week.

David Legwand, the first player drafted by the Predators, was surprised to see such a large crowd.

“This was quite the buzz they had going here,” Legwand said. “The rally is over and people are still here picking tickets out. It was a great turnout. It was phenomenal to see.”

New jerseys unveiled

Vernon Fiddler, Ryan Suter and Legwand gave Predators fans a first look at the new jerseys the team will wear for the 2007-2008 season. The jerseys are being furnished to every team in the NHL by Reebok.

“They are a little tight,” Legwand said. “It takes a little while to get used to them.”

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By: idgaf on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Once again conspicuiously absent is a statement/showing from the Preditors which should make those plucking their money down a little uneasy.

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

idgaf, I know you were hoping they would leave, but it looks like your wish is not going to come true. I had it on 104.5 all day and Plaster and company did a great job. Props to the diehard Preds fans, now the clown from Canada can shove it.

By: frank brown on 12/31/69 at 7:00

The Predators owner has purged his payroll and his overhead.....The Predators would have been here for next season regardless of any "rally".....Now what kind of team will show up to satisfy the casual fan...The casual fan can be very fickle...I think for the rest of their natural life that the Nashville Predators will be on year to year life support.

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 7:00

The rally was great, the building was electric and does prove that Nashville is a hockey market, much to the dismay of id. But then, who really cares what he thinks?Frank, if you knew anything about the team, other than being obsessed with their fans, you'd know that we are still a playoff team.

By: vurower28 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

frank brown is the typical crotchety old man....just like biddle.

By: frank brown on 12/31/69 at 7:00

My good man gdiafante, "obsessed with fans" why do you think the Predators are in trouble? If you had fans there would not be a chance of Nashville losing their team. I know you mean well and I appreciate the fervor of you well intentioned fanatics but it "ALL ABOUT FANS"
"1017

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Frank, my friend, it is well documented that the problem is not with individual fans, but corporate support. We lead the league in individual season tickets sold versus corporate (65%/35%), which is the exact opposite of the other NHL teams.I'm not sure why you are offended that Pred Nation supports it's team, but that's your problem.

By: frank brown on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Gdiafante, I would like to know what your definition of corporate support is? Do they buy tickets & boxes for fans to sit in? By the way do get paid every thursday or do you get paid on the 15th & 30th? I am running a survey? Where do you get the idea that I am offended that you fanatics support your team? I only look at the reasons you fanatics are close to losing your team. I actually am in complete support of your efforts to keep the team.....

By: Time for Truth on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Plaster just needs to do about twenty more of these and we'll get to 14000. I am a longtime supporter of Gov Bredesen, as many of you have read here over the years, and I thnk he could start a "take a long-time supporter to a hockey game" plan if he's looking for something to do with all those tickets. They have really good seats.Seriously, the lack of corporate support is the difference between revenue sharing and leaving town and I think businesses will step up this year. Every bar owner on lower Broad should buy a few season tickets and raffle off pairs to individual games about a week before that game.

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 7:00

It’s just as I illustrated Frank, for a franchise to be successful in modern sports, you have to have substantial corporate involvement. They have the means to purchase either large blocks of individual seats or suites, as you mentioned. Take Chicago or St. Louis. They averaged well below Nashville’s attendance yet the abundance of corporate support affords the franchise the ability to survive despite low attendance. Take the NFL. Why do you think owners want new stadiums abundant with luxury suites? That’s where they get the bulk of ticket revenue.

By: OneTimer on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Fellow posters, please don't fall into the trap of arguing with the naysayers on here. Their only purpose is to rile us up. Just ignore. They will go away to find attention somewhere else.It was truly fantastic last night. Bredesen is one of the main reasons why the Preds are here. Great to see him there.

By: BigPapa on 12/31/69 at 7:00

"Take the NFL. Why do you think owners want new stadiums abundant with luxury suites? That’s where they get the bulk of ticket revenue."One point you forgot to add--- people care about the NFL. They do not care about hockey.

By: OneTimer on 12/31/69 at 7:00

People. What do you mean by people? Plenty of people care about hockey. Did you not see the 7,500 at the rally? Those are people.

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Don't confuse television ratings with fan popularity Papa.

By: frank brown on 12/31/69 at 7:00

gdiafante, why do you think there is no corporate support for the Predators?

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 7:00

There is corporate support, just not to the same level as the rest of the NHL. Although in the beginning of the franchise, there was support. Perhaps the level of play, not being playoff caliber, for those early years drove off support, or perhaps the momentum-killing lockout destroyed faith in the game for local businesses, I’m not sure.

By: idgaf on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Ever consider that corporations here are not in the same catagory/class as those in other cities?

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 7:00

No id I haven’t. Mainly because of businesses like Bridgestone, Ingram industries, Nissan, Genesco, Catepillar Financial, LP Corp, Tractor Supply and Vanguard Health Systems. All of these are based in the Nashville area and have over $1 billion in annual revenue. Honorable mentions: Dell, HCA, Dollar General.

By: frank brown on 12/31/69 at 7:00

gdiafante, Do you think the people who are members of Belle Meade Country Club, Richland Country Club and Hillwood Country Club are the owners and managers of corporate Nashville?

By: tdk0316 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

I LOVE THE PREDS AND HAD SEASON TICKETS UNTIL LAST YEAR DUE TO CIRCUMSTANCES I COULD NOT CONTROL. BUT I WILL NEVER GIVE UP HOPE THAT THE PREDS WILL STAY HERE. NASHVILLE AND MY SECTION 303 LOVES HOCKEY AND WE WILL DO EVERYTHING WE CAN TO KEEP THE TEAM WE LOVE TO SEE SO MUCH HERE IN NASHVILLE!!!!!!!!!! BY THE WAY I AM A FOOTBALL FAN TO BUT HOW MANY PREDS DO YOU SEE GETTING IN TROUBLE WITH THE LAW UNLIKE HOW MANY TITANS HAVE WE SEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT AND ATLEAST THE PREDS CAN ACTUALLY MAKE IT TO THE PLAYOFFS!!!!!!!!!!!!TO ALL THE PREDS THEIR STAFF AND EVERYONE INCLUDING PHIL BREDESEN WHO HAS STEPPED UP AND HELPED KEEP THIS TEAM HERE YOU ARE DOING A WONDERFUL JOB LET'S GO PREDS! NASHVILLE LOVES YOU GUYS!!

By: theplantsman on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Corporate financial support is as critical to our community’s quality of life. Though I am not a FANatic of the Predators I am a realist that understands the economic impact a healthy business/corporate community can and typically does provide a medium sized community as Nashville Davidson County. I support any nudge that we can give our corporate neighbors to show its enthusiasm and community support for our town with the unanimous support of the Predators and the Titans (Not that the Titans need any). If we can support our Major League sports teams perhaps someday soon, we can attract a major league baseball franchise, and then we will just be to cool. I travel too much to justify buying season tickets for me, but I would be interested to know if the Predators have a program that would allow folks like me to buy season tickets and donate them to those students/athletes that have achieved the highest level of performance in athletics, performing arts and academics. Perhaps a special area that they can sit together and begin their networking.

By: theplantsman on 12/31/69 at 7:00

'too' cool (and spiffy)