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Nashville offers more generous arena deal to buyers

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.