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Preds Staying in Nashville

From this morning's Tennesean:

The future of the Predators in Nashville looks considerably brighter today after a group of primarily local businessmen seeking to purchase the team entered into a binding letter of intent with owner Craig Leipold on Wednesday.
The deal includes a nonrefundable payment of $10 million to Leipold. It ensures exclusive negotiating rights and serves as the initial payment on the $193 million purchase bid by the group, which includes California-based businessman William "Boots'' Del Biaggio III, who earlier had bid to buy the team himself.
A complete binding agreement by mid-August is the next goal, which would leave approval by the NHL Board of Governors in September as the only remaining hurdle for local ownership to clear to take control of the Predators.

My question is this: How do the new owners expect to make this work? They're about to own a top-notch organization (not to mention a winning one) that has ranked 23rd, 25th and 28th in attendance the past three seasons. If you can't sell-out when you've got an exciting, young and winning team, just how exactly are you going to sell-out? I'm not a business man, but I just don't get this one.

Am I alone here?

Read the whole article here.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  August 2, 2007; 8:25 AM ET
 
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Comments

Tarik, you fail to mention that they dismantled the talent from their team this season too.

Posted by: Jon | August 2, 2007 8:59 AM | Report abuse

yeah, that too. i don't get it.

Posted by: Tarik | August 2, 2007 9:00 AM | Report abuse

They haven't exactly dismantled the team, although they lost some key players. They surely still have more talent than most teams in the league.

The key to the Predators making it work is involving the Nashville business community more. Last year, individuals accounted for 65 percent of ticket sales and corporations 35 percent. Most teams have the reverse mix.

Local ownership ought to increase business sales markedly. If that happens, the team ought to be OK. They will probably always be near the salary cap floor, but their excellent management team headed by former Caps GM David Poile (wouldn't he look good in Washington right now), ought to make them competitive.

Posted by: Marc | August 2, 2007 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Tarik

To a slightly different issue, OUR CAPS. Where do we rank in attendance? Our you concerned about our crowds? I am a season ticket holder and must admit that our fan experience is not nearly as good as the ones I've had at AWAY venues. What's your take? Do you think the Caps are aware of this or even care?

Thanks

Posted by: Bill | August 2, 2007 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Tarik

To a slightly different issue, OUR CAPS. Where do we rank in attendance? Our you concerned about our crowds? I am a season ticket holder and must admit that our fan experience is not nearly as good as the ones I've had at AWAY venues. What's your take? Do you think the Caps are aware of this or even care?

Thanks

Posted by: Bill | August 2, 2007 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Bill, I think it's to be expected when a losing team has a poor box-office draw. When you have a winning team, that traditionally turns into a lot of paying customers. If the Caps were winning games like the Preds have been the last couple of seasons there's no question (in my mind) that the fan experience and the # of fans would be much improved in DC (still not comparible to some 'hockey' cities, but a lot better than what Nashville has done the last couple seasons).

And there's also no question that the Caps management is aware about the lack of filled seats at the Verizon Center and are TRYING to improve that. But the easiest way to increase the # of butts in the seats, at least here in DC, is to put a winning product on the ice. It'll be interesting to see if the new-look Caps this season are able to increase the number of fans at the games.

Posted by: Jeff | August 2, 2007 9:33 AM | Report abuse

we would have great attendance if we played the Pens 40 times at home.

Posted by: capsfansince74 | August 2, 2007 9:57 AM | Report abuse

That is all true, but what about NJ Devils?

I can bet their attendance is the last in the league. They have empty seats even in playoffs. They celebrate Stanley Cup wins in the parking lot.

It's always been a mistery to me, those Devils. I guess if they can do it, why not other teams?

Who needs attendance?

Posted by: alexovetjkin | August 2, 2007 10:09 AM | Report abuse

We would have great attendance if we were out of the Southeast division and played our "natural" rivals 8 times a year instead of Tampas, Atlantas and Carolinas...

Posted by: Finn | August 2, 2007 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Yeah and the devils are moving farther away from New York city to Newark, Any fans from NYC now will have another 20 30 minutes to get to the stadium. Had a friend in NJ who got free tickets to the playoffs games . Devils were giving them to local boys and girls clubs.

Noted today that Ken Klee went to the Thrashers

Posted by: bill dorgeloh | August 2, 2007 10:32 AM | Report abuse

I have some family up in NJ. They say that getting to Devils games for a 7pm start is almost impossible. The traffic and route is almost unbearable. The devils moving to a new arean is going to help their attendance a lot, I hope.

As for the Preds, they have a good deal of fan interest which is very nice. BUt having been to Nashville, and I'm sure many can attest to this, it's a small city. It might have a larger than life public persona but it is not a big place at all. I'm not sure how many tickets the NFL team pulls in but I got the distinct impression upon seeing the stadium that it was smaller than many others I had seen, especially Fed Ex.
All in all, I have no idea why the Preds are staying in Nashville. Its almost as if the owners who invest in Hockey aren't interested in making money, because this sport loses more than it makes every year. I love it and will watch all 82 Caps games this year, but I still dont understand how they can afford all these escalating player salaries and daily expenses.

Posted by: MM | August 2, 2007 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Thank you guys for responding. I personally think it is more than just wins and losses. Getting back to the fan experience for the people who ARE at the game I think things need to improve. It may seem trivial at first blush, but things like b/w period and time out entertainment is pretty lame. I've seen great stuff at other venues (Philly--even FLORIDA--with dancers) we always have the same boring stuff. Plus, the music should be used as the home advantage, to pump players up. I've noticed that OVIE pumps his head when they play Guns N' Roses--but they don't play it enough. Philly is all about head banging music when the game is on the line, and the players and fans go nutts. Instead, we play the Hockey Song and do the Kiss Cam!! Why doesn't management understand this?

The other huge problem I have is that the ushers are horrible and let people return to their seats when play has started (unlike other venues). This just pisses people off and worsens the experience.

Posted by: Bill | August 2, 2007 10:53 AM | Report abuse

It's sad, the NHL actually developed some hockey fans in Nashville, but the local business climate is apparently just not there to support a hockey team. Did anyone but Bettman think it was a good idea to put a franchise in Nashville in the first place?

Posted by: tallbear | August 2, 2007 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Actually, getting to Devils games for those in Manhattan is probably just as easy as when it was at the Meadowlands. The difference being the type of transportaion. At the Meadowlands you would tak a bus to the arena, a 15-20 minute ride. Now you will have to take the train and it will be 20-25 minutes. No real time difference. The bus was at 40th and 8th Avenue at the Port Authority and the train will be 34th between 7th and 8th Avenues. So no real difference there either.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | August 2, 2007 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Read up a little on the place they play in. I wonder if the new owners have any revovations planed for the bulding. Sounds like the place is an architechtural mess. I think they can get something going in Nashville with a better promotional machine and business contacts. It sounds like this Sommet Group who bought the naming rights to the building will be a big player.

Posted by: EricS | August 2, 2007 11:36 AM | Report abuse

One man's idea of a great game experience may not be another's. I think the music is already too damn loud and I'd prefer they turn it down, not pump it up. And I'd rather watch the little kids play hockey at intermission than almost anything else that they could come up with. I mean, dancers? are you kidding?

Posted by: Joe | August 2, 2007 11:45 AM | Report abuse

I think the mini-mites should play during each intermission. They're my favorite. I'd be up for bringing the goals a little closer together, though. It seems cruel to make them skate that far. Give the kids a chance!

Posted by: MM | August 2, 2007 12:04 PM | Report abuse

There is almost no debate...the mites on ice yield more fan excitement than anything other than the game itself (and at times, it seems like they produce MORE excitement).

As was mentioned above it's tough to keep everyone happy, and for those who aren't into the "family experience" then Caps games probably won't satisfy your expectations for a good "hockey environment". It is what it is...and I don't anticipate any drastic changes.

Posted by: Jeff | August 2, 2007 12:53 PM | Report abuse

I agree that the atmosphere at Caps game is a little too catered to a children/family friendly place. I can remember a couple years ago during our last playoff series aainst Tampa. My roomate and I left our seats during the middle of the game to watch it at the bar, because we couldn't stand little kids screaming and the people around us talking about hockey like they had any clue what was going on. It was miserable and it was the "PLAYOFFS" for F@*k sake. Winning will help, but obviously it doesn't solve everything......

Posted by: Esmydee13 | August 2, 2007 1:12 PM | Report abuse

The Predators get one of the largest revenue sharing checks in the NHL, and have a good deal on their current arena, whatever shape it may be in. Those factors alone limit the downside risk that the new owners are taking for paying what is probably a median or only slightly higher than median price for the franchise. The group's leader is a venture capital manager, so it's not like he's afraid of risk! Anyway, if they can leverage the local business community and make it work, they make money. If they can't and they have to move the franchise eventually, they can still make money. And in the interim, thanks to the current CBA, their lease, and their player sell-off, they're not getting killed from a cash flow standpoint over the next couple of years, whatever they may tell the press about their financial condition.

Finn, I agree, but I still wonder how the Caps voted on realignment.

Posted by: Fred | August 2, 2007 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Finn's right, - go back to 4 divisions, or group us with the Flyers, Pens, and Isles. As for the Preds...I have a spot spot for them. As I type this I'm packing to go to Cookeville, east of Nashville, for a family reunion. My family includes many Preds fans. I think they'd sell more seats if they promised never to wear that mustard yellow jersey again, however, I happen to like that jersey. Who knows? If only Bettman would have taken the "We shall not be moved" stance on the Whale, Jets, and Nordiques (Not that Colorado doesn't deserve a team).

Posted by: Whiter Mage | August 2, 2007 2:13 PM | Report abuse

More off topic.
Ducks decline to sign Penner!

I say right now it looks like a smart move.
Oilers WAY overpaid even if they are desperate.
Of course time will tell.

Posted by: slappy | August 2, 2007 4:49 PM | Report abuse

I say bring on the cheerleaders like in Carolina!

Posted by: capfan1 | August 2, 2007 5:54 PM | Report abuse

alexovetjkin,

The Devils finished ahead of the Caps in attendance last year, and finished ahead of the Red Wings in playoff attendance. They played in an inaccessible dump the last few years, but are moving into a brand new stadium this fall. I've heard, but have been unable to confirm, that they sold more tickets already for this upcoming season than they did all of last year.

Posted by: FS | August 2, 2007 9:03 PM | Report abuse

I swear to God if they put those stupid dancers on the ice I will not go to another game....ever! That would be the worst move ever. I think that is the stupidest idea in the world...ice dancers? I mean really! That is so dumb!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 2, 2007 9:38 PM | Report abuse

If I was Penner I would be ANGRY. To have just won a cup while on a great team and be in Southern Cal and suddenly stolen away to a rebuilding catastrophe in icy, frostbitten Edmonton, is a cruel, cruel joke. Why would anyone want to do that? This rule is just idiotic and Lowe is a complete bonehead. Professional or not, who the hell wouldn't harbour animosity at this point?

Posted by: MM | August 2, 2007 11:11 PM | Report abuse

MM, Penner had to *sign* the qualifying offer. Penner wasn't stolen - he signed a contract with another team, and then his team didn't match it, though they had the rights. Brian Burke had the quote of the offseason, though, slapping Kevin Lowe. Something about how they'll take the draft picks, and judging by Kevin Lowe's recent GM history, it'll be a good one. Also Ice Dancers are dumb. Anywho, I figured I'd reply to everything, as I leave the region in the morning.

Posted by: Whiter Mage | August 3, 2007 2:39 AM | Report abuse

Getting back to Nashville -- Bettman is a fool! I can't believe that he is so adamant about keeping a hockey team in Tennesse. Hamilton, Ontario would be a much better place with a more consistent hockey-wise fan base and an owner who has very deep pockets. I think another team in Ontario would only add to the rivalries around the Great Lakes. Hamilton has enough people willing to shell out good money for good hockey (they support the AHL Icedogs very well and already sold a bunch of season tickets). The tv coverage for games between the Preds and the Sabres, the Redwings, the Blackhawks, Sens, and especially the Leafs would be much better than the Nashville audience. Bettman is simply too attached to his dream of bringing hockey south. Let the south keep its Nascar and let hockey come home to Canada and the the Northern US!

Posted by: Jim | August 3, 2007 7:44 AM | Report abuse

Jim,
Hamilton Metro Population: 693,000
Nashville Metro Population: 1,498,836

Hamilton is steel-manufacturing town that is not rapidly growing. It also has the 3rd largest immigrant population in Canada. (1/4 of the city... Not all hockey fans)

If AHL attendance is a case for getting a NHL team then Hershey/Harrisburg should have one too (metro population: 643,000).

Bettman can be ridiculed for many things but this ain't one of them.

Posted by: slappy | August 3, 2007 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Slappy, Hamilton's metro population is 504,559 for the vity and 692,911 for the metro area, of which 10% are immigrants. Most of the immigrants are from eastern Europe and the former USSR. Nashville's population is 607,412 in the city and a little under 1.5 million for the metro area. The population density for Hamilton is much higher than the expansive definition of a metro area for Nashville. Now the average Hamiltonian is a much more rabid hockey fan than the average Nashvillian. As for the immigrant population, yeah those Eastern Europeans and old Ruskies are so unlikely to love hockey. Hamilton supports its CFL team well, whereas the Titans arent' that well supported in being 14th in the league with 69,143 per game (home). The Preds rank 25th out of 30 teams with 14,428 fans per game. So I still see Hamilton as a better venue.

Posted by: Jim | August 5, 2007 4:58 PM | Report abuse

"We would have great attendance if we were out of the Southeast division and played our "natural" rivals 8 times a year instead of Tampas, Atlantas and Carolinas..."

This is a great point that I think many lose sight of. In the 80's/90's rivalries were established and teams came that people loved to hate. With the Caps playing these "expansion" teams day in and out, two thoughts occur:

There's the "Who're they? They're new right? They must suck." thought associated with these teams.

And there's the "Oh, Atlanta, they'll be back again, I'll catch a game then." stance. We play these teams so frequently it's become a bore to watch them by some.

Posted by: keith | August 7, 2007 1:24 PM | Report abuse

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