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THE OUT FOR THE DEVILS' LEASE MAY BE IN THE DETAILS
Published May 11, 1995
In New York, Larry Brooks examines the events contributing to a possible move by the Devils to Nashville. Brooks notes that the Devils have initiated an audit of the NJ Sports & Exposition Authority, a strategy that caught the NJSEA by "surprise." The audit charges that there are "13 areas in which their landlord is in default of the lease." In the past ('86 and '91), the Devils "simply demanded renegotiation of the lease." This time, however, the team has "opened a process under which they have the ability to declare a breach of contract and immediately terminate the lease." Brooks notes that four of the "areas of alleged misconduct concern" are number of parking spaces, drafts in the building, overlap of events, and the safety of a pedestrian bridge. Brooks writes that Devils Owner John McMullen believes "that he has been treated outrageously" since moving to NJ in '82, and that -- "as much as a desire to make more money" is driving his threats to move to Nashville. Despite McMullen's complaints, Brooks concludes that NHL Bylaw 36.5, which lists 24 criteria to be evaluated in determining whether a team should be permitted to move, does not back up the Devils' claims (N.Y. POST, 5/11). NASHVILLE'S READY, JUST IN CASE: Nashville Mayor Phil Bredesen presented a $57.5M plan to the city council to bring a team to the new downtown arena, but "he tied the package firmly to approval of beer sales at the facility." The arena is under construction 85 feet from the a Baptist church, and city beer laws require a distance of at least 100 feet between businesses that sell beer and churches. Bredesen wants a vote on the beer exemption before the sports package (Jim East, Nashville TENNESSEAN, 5/10). HERE'S THE DEAL: Bredesen's package breaks down into $27.5M in revenue bonds, $12M in equal contributions by the Metro government, Gaylord Entertainment and the team owner, and $18M in ticket sales, rent and concessions. The $12M would fund a Metro Sports Authority to oversee the arena, with the authority paying Gaylord about $350,000 a year (4.8% of non-NBA/NHL revenues) to manage operations. In addition, the authority would cover $20M in reolcation fees for any pro team. The team's lease would be: 100% of ticket revenue; 100% of radio/TV revenue; 97.5% of team- related suite sales; 50% of non-team suite sales; 35% of game day merchandise; 100% of NBA/NHL-related ad revenue; 40% of gross revenue on game day concessions; 75% of game day parking revenue from an attached 350-car garage; and 2.2% of non-NBA/NHL revenue (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 5/10).