The Tennessean greeted Predators fans this morning with yet another sensational headline on the front page of the Local & Business section:
Preds' owners asked to ante up
Lawyer says group must chip in small amount to cover shortfall
Not making the NHL playoffs cost the Predators local owners, who recently had to kick in more money to Nashville's hockey enterprise because of a cash flow shortage.
While being characterized as a minor matter, it underscores the fragility of professional hockey operating in smaller and Southern markets. Former Predators owner Craig Leipold said he lost millions in Nashville before selling the team to the local ownership group in December 2007. During his tenure, Leipold had to make capital calls to generate additional cash flow.
The story was written by Brad Schrade, who just a couple months ago stirred up a hornet's nest by (incorrectly) implying that the Predators were underpaying the city of Nashville on their ticket taxes. This latest article basically involves a statement by the lawyer for one of the owners, Herb Fritch, saying that the group was recently called to make a contribution to cover a slight cash shortfall from the year's operations.
This isn't surprising to anyone who actually follows the team, however, as chairman David Freeman openly stated in an April 22 end-of-the-year interview that the team expected to lose between $1-2 million since they didn't make the playoffs. The owners presumably then passed the hat around to cover that amount.
I'm just not getting what the "news" is here. Well, there is this little bit snuck in at the very end of the article, buried back on page 8B:
Despite the tough economic times, ticket sales are on track with where they were a year ago with renewals well over 70 percent, [Senior VP for Communications & Development Gerry] Helper said. New sales are slightly ahead of last year, he said. The team sold about 8,700 season tickets last year, which include full and partial season packages.
I guess good news isn't sexy, however, so it doesn't get the run that a minor cash call on the ownership (that we already knew about a month ago) gets.