NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The new owners of the Nashville Predators are close to final approval on a revised lease agreement for their arena that has Nashville taxpayers helping subsidize the team.
The Metro Sports Authority approved the new lease by a vote of 7-1 Tuesday, and the Metro Council is expected to vote on the lease April 1 with only a simple majority needed for approval.
The agreement has Nashville paying the team US$3.8 million each year, even when the Predators don’t lose that much money. If the Sommet Center’s losses are less than $3.8 million, the other money could be spent on the arena itself.
David Freeman, the lead owner, said the owners plan to spend at least that much to help bring in events like the NCAA women’s Final Four. Freeman said the arena should host 150 days’ of events in the fiscal year ending in June, up 30 days from the previous fiscal year.
“We’re not worried about taking risks anymore,” said Freeman, CEO of 36 Venture Capital. “We’re going to take some risks.”
Steve North, who voted against the agreement, said he thinks the new lease might leave Nashville paying more than expected.
“Anytime you have a complex agreement, there are always unintended consequences,” North said.
Lawyer Larry Thrailkill, who represented the city of Nashville in the negotiations, said Nashville likely will pay about $4.5 million this year to the team for incentive fees and other changes that include reducing rent and a bigger cut of advertising revenue for the Predators.
The new owners took over the team earlier this season.