Nashville Predators to no longer play in the "Sommet Center", sue Sommet Group over naming rights


This just arrived from the Nashville Predators:

Nashville Hockey Club Limited Partnership today announced that it has terminated its naming rights agreement with Sommet Group of Tennessee f/k/a Sommet Group, LLC ("Sommet"), and has filed suit in the Chancery Court for Davidson County, Tennessee, against Sommet stemming from Sommet's failure to fulfil its naming rights payment obligations under that agreementThis is the last year of a three year naming rights agreement that the two companies entered into in 2007. 

 "We have reluctantly terminated our relationship with Sommet Group," Nashville Predators President of Business Operations, Ed Lang said. "For months, Sommet Group has not met its payment obligations under our naming rights agreement.  We repeatedly reached out to Sommet Group and sought its compliance with these obligations.  Unfortunately, Sommet Group did not do so, or give us any indication that it would.  We regret that Sommet Group left us no alternative but to terminate the agreement and seek legal redress."

Our intention is to present a proposal for a new name to the Sports Authority in the coming weeks.

Obviously this is developing news, and we hope to hear more soon. As noted in the final sentence of the press release, an actual name change for the arena wouldn't take place until it is submitted to the Metro Sports Authority, which meets next on December 18th. The Sommet Group purchased the naming rights to the arena in May of 2007, after sponsoring the team's playoff run that year.

If the team were to court a new arena sponsor, who would you like to see? Thinking of brand-name companies with a strong local presence there is Nissan (which moved its U.S. headquarters to suburban Franklin recently), Dell, Jack Daniels, Cracker Barrel, and a host of others...

UPDATE: Nashvile is Talking points to a press release issued by the Sommet Group:

First and foremost, we at the Sommet Group hope to resolve this amicably, in the best interests of all concerned. But the reason we have withheld payments is because our supposed partner in naming rights is not acting like one. We entered into the agreement with the understanding that in partial exchange for our payments, our business units would be the preferred provider of certain products and services. This is in keeping with the Hockey Club's expressed desire to do business with local companies. Instead, the club has chosen arbitrarily to use our competitors, and the most recent straw that broke the camel's back was their order of thousands of T-shirts from out of state instead of from Sommet's BrandCentrik business unit. That in our view is not being a good partner as was promised.

Was this "understanding" a part of the naming-rights contract, and thus provide cause for Sommet to withhold payment if the Predators didn't use Sommet Group businesses for various needs? I would think this would be a pretty straightforward issue once the contract is admitted into evidence as part of a lawsuit.

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