As I sit listening to an Internet radio broadcast of tonight’s game (Grey’s Anatomy is on), I am reminded of the dark cloud that has been hanging over Nashville for the better part of a year. Games are intensely entertaining to attend or watch on television, but the possibility of a the team’s departure reaches beyond their devoted fan base.
The Tennessean had this to add to the discussion in today’s editorial.
The Predatorsâ€™ predicament may have become a familiar problem to Nashvillians by now, but that doesnâ€™t mean the city has to stick to an old game plan. Negotiations for a new lease agreement make it clear that the task of keeping the team in Nashville will not be easy, but it is vitally important that an agreement be reached, for several reasons.
The city is being asked to let the Predators keep an estimated $4.2 million a year in sales taxes and seat-use fees from Sommet Center. Further, the group of potential owners attempting to buy the team from Craig Leipold wants the city to fund $7 million of improvements at the arena.
Many Nashvillians may be tempted at this point to throw up their hands and say the Predators deal has not worked and let the team leave. But itâ€™s not that simple. The city needs the tenant. If the team should leave, the city still has an arena it has to pay for. If the tendency is to say the arena should replace Predators games with other events, thatâ€™s not that simple either. There may be far fewer events available, and many of them could not be expected to generate the kind of attendance figures the Predators represent.
We need a principle tenant for the Sommet Center, and keeping the Predators is a far better option than finding a replacement. Paying for a dark arena is like owning a sports car but never putting tires on it or gas in it. Depending on who you ask, losing the hockey team would be the equivalent of taking that same sports car and pushing it off a cliff. If the Nashville Predators move on to Kansas City (or less likely, Hamilton, Ontario), it will damage our city’s chances of luring another indoor sports team. It would also support the notion that concert and event promoters should steer clear of the Music City, a trend already in motion with the cancellation of River Stages, Dancin’ in the District and the closure of Starwood Amphitheater in nearby Antioch.