Hot Air: More Preds Relocation Talk

I’ve been trying to keep an eye on the press coverage of the Predators’ potential relocation, and especially interesting to me are the articles and columns written by our friends over the border in Canada. Consider this recent quote:

The NHL is still stuck with a dead franchise in a disinterested market. Privately, people throughout the league have long acknowledged the inevitability of losing Nashville, in large part because the owners of “have” teams were sick of throwing shared revenue down a black hole.

Now it may be true that league owners have griped amongst themselves about sharing revenue with a money-losing team like Nashville. But I don’t think we have a “dead franchise in a disinterested market.” Far from it. Nashville continues to grow wildly, largely due to transplants from hockey-embracing cities, and if the Preds would spend some time marketing the team instead of re-reading their lease for out clauses they might be able to capitalize on that growth.

Furthermore, it’s no secret that around two-thirds of Preds season ticket holders are individual fans rather than corporate accounts. Which speaks to an important fact: There are more than enough die-hard hockey fans in the city to keep us afloat, but but only if the Predators and Craig Leipold do some serious outreach to the business community and actually sell the corporate crowd more season tickets.

Along those lines, I am glad to hear that fans are staging a rally next month to encourage season ticket sales. And in fact, there have already been over 1,000 new season tickets sold this year. I’m entirely convinced that Nashvillians can support this team well enough to keep them in our fair city for years to come. Last year’s average attendance was less than 200 seats off of the 14,000 necessary to restrict the exit clause in the team’s lease. Add that to the very real possibility that Balsillie will not be able to place the team in Hamilton due to its proximity to the Toronto and Buffalo franchises, and I would say the odds of keeping the Preds as our home team are not unmanageable.

1 Comment so far

  1. Paul Nicholson (unregistered) on June 25th, 2007 @ 4:53 pm

    i am a crazy die-hard Predators fan. I think we will sell the tickets needed to keep the team and they wont be going anywhere. I will also say that we are far from the only team with attendance issues, and far from the only team losing money.

    Having said that, we are a long way from being a city that owners of other teams won’t gripe about having to subsidize.

    Unless Craig Leipold was lying through his teeth (which is possible), the Predators lost $15mil. Let’s assume that he exaggerated by 50% and we only lost $10mil. If the Predators had not only sold 14,000 seats per game, but actually sold out every single game last year, it would have only grossed the team an extra $380k in revenue.

    The Predators problem is not (and never has been) ticket sales. The real problem with the teams viability is a lack of business support in the form of licensing deals, sponsorships, merchandise sales, etc.

    I think Nashville will get there if we are given the chance. Something that other NHL owners don’t want to give us. But being honest, we are a long way from being a profitable, top notch team.

    Much more on the relocation, rallies, and team are all here.

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