Nashville Predators request $3.8 million from Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau

The Tennessean's Michael Cass brings news that the Predators may have found a new revenue stream, by recovering funds from city & state government:

The Nashville Predators are due to receive millions of dollars in state revenues each year. But the organization charged with distributing the money to the Predators said it knew nothing about the arrangement until the National Hockey League franchise asked to be paid earlier this year.

The Predators' sister company, Powers Management, which runs Bridgestone Arena for Metro government, asked the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau last winter to pass along more than $1.65 million to make up for revenue lost when Powers booked the facility at below-market rates in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2010.

Apparently there may be a few opportunities for the Predators to recover some money from the city & state under existing law, including the "below-market rate" issue above, and extending to the application of the notorious Privilege Tax which is levied on NHL players, both visiting and home, who play at Bridgestone Arena each year....

All told, the Preds are seeking over $3.8 million, and one issue in particular is where the Preds claim that because of obligations to accommodate certain events, the team has to give up some Saturday dates during hockey season, which costs them money.

The table below comes from data reported by the team to the Metro Sports Authority for the 2010-2011 regular season home games. As you can see, typically a Saturday night game nets the team almost $200,000 more than Monday-Thursday games, even after taxes and seat user fees are taken out of the equation.

 Day  Count  Avg Paid Att.  Avg Comps  Avg Total Att.  Avg Gross  Avg Tax  Avg Seat User Fee  Avg Net Sales
 Sunday  2   14,983   489   15,471   627,139   51,567   18,206   557,367 
 Monday  2   13,632   710   14,341   538,955   44,360   15,040   479,555 
 Tuesday  10   14,860   822   15,683   577,714   47,519   16,525   513,670 
 Wednesday   2   15,065   594   15,659   577,138   47,526   15,803   513,809 
 Thursday  9   15,728   606   16,334   590,265   48,587   16,417   525,260 
 Friday  1   16,783   336   17,119   751,453   61,880   20,570   669,003 
 Saturday  15   16,250   616   16,866   781,899   64,390   21,483   696,026 
 Grand Total  41   15,562   655   16,217   659,901   54,320   18,388   587,193 

For a bit of context as to how the paid attendance and "comps" (tickets given away) have trended over the last few seasons, check out this post from May of this year.

Now, how many games get pushed to less lucrative days of the week because of arena commitments that the Preds can claim reimbursement for? Who knows, but that's an issue for the team to work out with the authorities. If indeed these matters work out in the team's favor, that could represent another significant step forward for the Predators' financial performance, and bolster their ability to increase the player payroll without sacrificing stability.

To me, the really interesting part of Cass' post is that it sounds like this is something the Convention & Visitors Bureau wasn't familiar with before. Has this option always been available, and did the team miss out on these funds in previous years? Could this prove to be a negotiating point as the team seeks to negotiate a new financial arrangement with the city under the Bridgestone Arena lease, since the current one is set to expire soon?

Those are just two of many questions worth watching here in the days and weeks ahead...

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