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Nashville Predators proposing upscale "Reserve at the Sommet Center"

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This morning in the Tennessean, Michael Cass reports on a proposal by the Nashville Predators to reconfigure two sections into "an exclusive area for high net worth individuals", at a hefty annual pricetag:

The perks would include food, beer and wine; flat-screen, high-definition TVs; "captains chair style seating"; a concierge; and valet parking. Guests would pay $20,000 per seat per year to attend at least 100 events, including games, concerts and other shows. They would be required to buy at least two seats in the area, known as "The Reserve at Sommet Center."

It's an interesting idea, in that it makes the corporate-suite experience available to individuals or small businesses that may want the high-end experience, but don't want to lease a full 16-person suite. According to the report, the two sections involved (201 & 224, at the end of the rink opposite the Zamboni entrance) have a current capacity of 250, but only sold 69 tickets per game for last season.

The Metro Sports Authority has to review the proposal, as part of the yearly capital investments made in the facility. It sounds like they want to assess the impact on the common fan, and make sure that people aren't being pushed aside for the fat cats, but given the circumstances here, that hardly seems the case. If the team was selling out games regularly and were talking about wiping out low-priced seating to clear the way, that might be different. Those sections currently run over $2,000 per seat for a season ticket (the "Shoot 1x Club Level"), roughly twice what many of the upper bowl seats cost.

Basically, if the team believes from a market-research standpoint that they can make this work, I think it's a bold move. They could turn an area that was generating around $150,000 in ticket revenue (69 tickets per game, roughly $50 apiece, for 41 games) into $1.4 million (if they sold 70 seats out of 130 at $20K apiece annualy). Of course the operating costs will go up concurrently, but as a business move it sounds like a creative approach to tackle the economic circumstances which are going to face most NHL teams this upcoming season.