SBD/Issue 64/Franchises

Predators' Financial Health Worries Metro Sports Authority

Could Predators Leave
Nashville Next Year?
A "cascade of questions surrounding" the Predators' financial health left Nashville's Metro Sports Authority (MSA) members "publicly speculating on Friday about whether the team might be in a position to leave town next year," according to Nate Rau of the Nashville TENNESSEAN. The MSA finance committee met to discuss a $3.3M federal tax lien against Predators Owner David Freeman and its "impact on the personal financial guarantees the team's ownership group provides the city as security." MSA Vice Chair Steve North: "We are sort of hostage to somebody that comes along and makes a better deal in terms of another city. If we take the most negative, worst-case scenario, I want to know how we're looking in terms of guarantees." North added that the Predators' creditors "might be caught in a 'rush to the bank' for who gets paid." However, Freeman on Friday said that his tax lien "would be resolved in January." Freeman: "As long as Metro keeps all of its commitments to this club, then the Predators will remain a very stable franchise." Rau noted a provision of the Predators' Sommet Center lease agreement with MSA "allows the team to exercise an early termination clause beginning May 1, 2010, if it has incurred a cumulative operating loss of $20[M] and fails to average 14,000 fans per game in paid attendance that season." The team through November averaged 12,913 fans per game, though attendance numbers "typically grow as the NHL season progresses." If the early termination clause "were exercised, the Predators would owe the city" $20M (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 12/12).

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