SBD/September 19, 2012/Facilities

NHL Lockout, Day 4: Nashville Must Pay Arena Subsidies To Preds Even If Games Canceled

Nashville got more than $4M last year for Predators games at Bridgestone Arena
Nashville city officials are "nervously watching the labor impasse between the National Hockey League and its players, knowing that they still have to write checks to the Nashville Predators even if there’s no hockey season," according to Josh Brown of the Nashville TENNESSEAN. Under terms of the city's agreement with the team, the city "will still be on the hook for millions of dollars in subsidies to the Predators even if the games don’t resume." The city has an "obligation to provide the team" up to $8.6M per year. That money "comes in the form of subsidies and fees for management of the arena." Nashville also "pays the team incentives for booking other acts at the venue, some of which generate revenue for the city that won’t be lost to the lockout." In addition, the city "receives sales tax revenue from the games and other events." If some games are canceled or the entire season called off, Nashville "would take a hit in the revenue it receives from ticket and concession sales at hockey games." Nashville District Energy System Liaison Bob Lackey said that the city last year "received a little more than $4 million in state and local tax from the games." Nashville City Council member Lonnell Matthews Jr. said, “We’re hoping that the lockout doesn’t actually cancel the season and that we’ll be able to reap some of the benefits.” He added that lost tax revenue from games "could cause a shortfall that would have to be covered somehow" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 9/19).

OFF THE HOOK: In Columbus, Josh Jarman writes Franklin County (Ohio) taxpayers "have little on the line in the dispute, even though they now own Nationwide Arena." The lockout "will not cost taxpayers or the Franklin County agency that owns the arena anything because the public receives no revenue from hockey games -- not from concessions, parking or tickets." That money all goes to the Blue Jackets, "who were the main benefactors in a deal brokered late last year to have the city and county split the cost of buying and operating the arena, and allow the team to play there rent free." Blue Jackets VP/PR Todd Sharrock said that "not having to pay rent during the lockout puts the team in a better financial situation than during the 2004-05 season lockout." But he added the team "would bear the financial burden of any canceled games as it did eight years ago" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 9/19).
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