At long last, it's official - the Nashville Post is reporting that the David Freeman-led group of local investors (plus Boots Del Biaggio) has reached a binding agreement to purchase the Nashville Predators from Craig Leipold, and will soon submit that agreement to the NHL head office. While it is likely that there isn't enough time for the NHL's due diligence to complete prior to the next Board of Governors meeting on Sept. 18, it appears that an up-or-down vote could be held by fax at a to-be-determined date afterwards. For now, though, Predators fans can let it all hang out this weekend:
Is that Ek on the right?
The next major milestone in this process will come shortly after Nashville's mayoral election on Sept. 11. Whoever wins the election will take office ten days later, and you can expect them to get up to speed quickly on the proposed changes to the Sommet Center lease that require immediate attention. By the way, I missed this piece back on August 24, but Richard Lawson posted another fine article at the Nashville Post discussing one of the major components of the requested change; that responsibility for operating profit/loss at the Sommet Center transfer to the Freeman group. A strong case for making just such an adjustment was made by the consulting firm KPMG in an audit they performed for the Nashville Metro government four years ago:
"Metro’s case is unique in that the facility management company and the primary sports tenant share common ownership while Metro is responsible for any operating deficit," according to KPMG's report. "For other public arenas managed by an outside facility operator where there is common ownership between the team and the facility operator, the facility operator assumes the risk of any operating losses and benefits from any financial gain … Without renegotiation of existing agreements, significant decreases in the general fund operating subsidy to the GEC [edit: now called the Sommet Center] are unlikely."
At least for that portion of the lease, a renegotiation could be a win-win for both the team and the city.
Anyways, today's news marks a major step towards resolving the drama that began back in May when Jim Balsillie and Richard Rodier appeared likely to sweep the team out of the city. Hockey training camp for the Predators is set to begin Sept. 13, and the first preseason game (against Columbus) is just two weeks from Sunday.