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

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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...