Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Another Day, Another Doubtful Deal

We thought this was over. We thought that they had finally had a deal. At long last, the fate of the Nashville Predators was determined and it was going to be sold to a group of local investors in order to stay in Nashville for a time being.

Oops.

It seems that according to the Tennessean, one of the investors doubt that the deal will go through; as some of the alterations that the group want to make to the deal with the City of Nashville doesn't sit well with the city council. David Freeman said that the nine changes the group proposed was rejected by city council and really puts this deal in doubt.

Some of the changes included an option to let the Predators leave Nashville if the season attendance dips under 14,000 on average and if the group loses $20 US. Also, the changes includes the team taking almost all state and local taxes from the arena for hockey and other arena events. Other revisions included the city putting up a new source of revenue stream for the arena make "Fun Zones" to kill excessive utility cost. I don't know how one goes with the other, but hey.

Now, here's the thing-- and this is just me-- it seems that the only way the Predators will ever get sold is that if the City and current owner Craig Leipold comes to the realization that one of the clauses for a new owner is the option to move the team if there is no support from the city. It will be hard to give that up, especially when so much time and money was put into it in one way or another-- but it's real. No new investor wants to come in and accept that they will have to take a monetary loss and be handcuffed by the fact they must keep the team in a place the doesn't/won't support it.

It would have been a good idea to get the local investors into the fold, however the fact they want a clause to get out if there's no support is probably showing their true colors. Sure, it's an insurance policy, but when you have the locals starting to question the loyalty of the fans; something is wrong. It could be underestimating the fan or it could show that those investing probably wouldn't do much to promote their own team on their own business side, but something is rotten there when you want all those clauses.

I don't know if the Preds will ever get sold and if they do-- odds are they'll be headed to either Kansas City or somewhere in Canada. To counteract that, the fans need to do their parts. It's hard to put the onus on the people supporting the team, but that seems to be the bottom line. It could seem like a hard sell, but that's why they needed the local investors to help pump up the team. With that dead-- it seem all but assured that the Predators tenure in Nashville is almost as extinct at the sabertooth tiger on their uniforms.

1 comment:

imajoebob said...

Two words: Peter Karmanos

He rolled into Hartford in 1994 with all kinds of promises to keep the franchise in town, so the city and state threw all kinds of money (for the times) at him. As soon as he got here he started negotiating to move the team. He promised to give Hartford 4 years, he left in 3. He promised to stay if we bought 11,000 season tickets, We did. He promised he could be financially and competitively viable if he got 91% capacity. He got 95%. He needed control of a brand hew arena. He got it. He needed a guaranteed income. He got $50M for 20 years = $1B!!.

But wait! After it was all settled - the state approved the funding, the city approved the funding, the development authority approved the funding; Phony Pete came back and demanded another $45M for the three years until his new arena was finished, and would only commit to 10 years.

If you ever want to see hockey in Nashville again, get an owner to sign an iron-clad contract, with tons of conditions to prevent him from leaving for the next pretty face that comes along. Put in clauses that are financially punitive if he even talks to another city before a certain year. Put in clauses that allow the city to take the team for a predetermined price if a third party decides they tried to trash the team to allow a move. But overbuild an arena that can be easily upgraded in ten years. That's the way they all try to get out of the deal. ("But his rink is nicer than mine!")

In other words, don't trust anybody, not even your own mother, who buys the team. There will come a point when the lure of another city's money becomes too great. And they'll be gone.

The best advice is to use the Green Bay or original New England Whalers/Hartford deal. The Packers are a publicly head company, with most stockholders living in the area. They held a stockholder vote before they could upgrade Lambeau Field. The Whalers were owned by a large collection of the biggest businesses in the city when the heads of these companies were called "The Bishops". They insisted on the (in)famous mall as part of the arena to ensure the viability of the Civic Center. Ironically, the mall did well until the team was sold to private investors, who lost their shirts in a real estate scandal and trashed the team. These public/private partnership groups don't look to make a killing or own a team to massage their egos. They reinvest (any) profits in the team, and their goal is franchise stability for the good of the community.

Good luck, and keep one hand on your wallet.