Nashville offers more generous arena deal to buyers

Updated: November 10, 2007, 5:36 PM ET
Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The city has made another offer to a local group seeking to buy the Nashville Predators, proposing a more generous arena lease in exchange for a commitment to stay in Nashville for five years.

Under the deal offered Friday by Mayor Karl Dean, the Predators could still leave town in three years if the investors were to lose $20 million in that time and paid attendance were to fall below 14,000 per game.

If the team leaves before the five years are up, it would repay about $6.8 million a year that the city would provide in operating support and management fees to the team and the arena, which the Predators would manage.

Dean said it was time for the city to say what it can do and let the buyers accept it or move on.

"I feel it is important for the stakeholders, including the current owners of the team -- Nashville's hockey fans and all of our citizens -- to know the details of what the city is willing and able to do to help move this transaction forward," Dean said in a written statement.

Chase Cole, an attorney for the investors, said Saturday that he received the offer late Friday afternoon and that the local group is looking over it this weekend and will be "getting back to the city in the next day or so to talk with them about it."

The investors, most of whom live in Middle Tennessee, want to buy the Predators from Craig Leipold for $193 million. But they say they first need to change the team's lease of the city's arena, the Sommet Center, to have a chance to make the Predators financially successful.

They made a proposal to the city Sept. 29, a week after Dean took office. He and his aides and attorneys have been negotiating with them since then.

Leipold is selling because he estimated he has lost $70 million in his 10 years of ownership.

Leipold originally announced a deal to sell his team in May to Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie for $220 million. But the deal fell through in June when the co-CEO of Blackberry makers Research in Motion Ltd. started taking season ticket deposits in Hamilton, Ontario.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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