No word on extending today’s deadline for Preds’ group

Wednesday, October 31, 2007 at 1:39am

Players on all sides of the current Predators negotiations spent Tuesday saying very little about what progress is being made in brokering a deal between the team’s prospective buyers and the city.

Even less was said about what will happen if no deal is struck before today — the deadline set by current Predators owner Craig Leipold to cut that deal.

Leipold has given a group of local investors led by David Freeman until a non-specific time today — Oct. 31 — to hammer out a new agreement with Metro over changes to the team’s lease with the Sommet Center.

According to Leipold’s agreement with the Freeman group, Leipold reserved the right to pocket their $10 million deposit and seek other buyers if the Freeman group was unable to secure the changes it wanted to see made to the team’s contract with the Sommet Center, which is overseen by Metro government.

Leipold, who is not involved in the negotiations with the city, would not say if he is considering extending Wednesday’s deadline.

“Everybody’s still focused on working to see this deal through,” Gerry Helper, spokesman for Leipold and the Predators organization, said Tuesday afternoon.

Helper said it was premature to comment on whether or not a deadline extension has been discussed with the local investors group.

“I think we have to let the negotiation process take its course,” he said.

Similarly, a spokeswoman for the investors group, would not say if the group has even discussed the deadline with Leipold.

“Any questions about deadline extension would need to go to Mr. Leipold,” said Hall Strategies’ Margie Newman. “Right now we’re still aiming for Oct. 31.”

Meanwhile, Mayor Dean’s office, which has been overseeing the city’s negotiations with Freeman and the local investors over changes to the Predators’ current contract to play hockey at the Sommet Center, turned its attention away from the negotiations altogether, saying again that the city is not operating under any deadline constraints.

Officials for the mayor said that regardless of whether or not an agreement is reached the Predators will remain in Nashville through the 2008-2009 hockey season, and that the long-term future of Predators hockey in Nashville is not dependent on a deal with the Freeman group but on selling at least 14,000 tickets a year.

“The only way the Predators stay in Nashville, legally financially and otherwise, is if we sell 14,000 tickets,” Dean’s spokeswoman, Janel Lacey, said Tuesday.

Dean himself has also tried to take the focus of the Predators’ future off of the city’s negotiations with the Freeman group and on to its ticket drive.

Speaking to reporters last week after addressing the Greater Nashville Hotel and Lodging Association, Dean said that the outcome of current negotiations would not determine if the Predators leave or stay in Nashville.

“We need to focus on keeping them here by selling tickets,” Dean said.

David Fox, of the public relations firm McNeely, Pigott and Fox, on Tuesday said that the “Our Team” ticket drive has to date sold 2,550 season tickets.

Before the drive started in June the number of “full season equivalent” Predators tickets was 7,000. That number is now at 9,550, Fox said, speaking for the “Our Team” consortium.

At the end of last season, the Predators’ 8,758 full season equivalent tickets resulted in a figure of 13,800 tickets per game, just shy of the 14,000 threshold needed to keep the team in Nashville beyond next season.

“It’s been successful,” Fox said of the ticket drive, “but we still have more work to do.”

Filed under: City Business
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By: frank brown on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I wish that after this deal is consumated that the new owners would release the number of season tickets sold to Davidson County residents and businesses.

By: idgaf on 12/31/69 at 6:00

There is something fundamentaly wrong with the city being a party to these negotiations. This is a business deal between the two parties and we have no business spending taxpayers money to get it done.So now we find out they want millions to keep 2500 happy out of 600,000 taxpayers.

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Id and Frank the first to post on a Preds story?? Shocking!

By: kristimorg on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Some of you may grip about Davidson County taxpayer money being spent but it's going to cost Davidson County a lot more if the team leaves. Do we not remember the year of the lock out and the businesses downtown that went under? The millions in tax dollars lost because there were no games? Even if the team leaves, the city will still be responsible for that arena and it will be empty a lot along with other empty downtown establishments and parking spaces which all help Davidson County. No, I don't live in Davidson County but I wouldn't spend any money in your county if it weren't for Preds games. I spend a lot of money downtown because I spend a lot of time downtown for the games. The team is good for the city and it's residents. Look at the bigger picture.

By: hank102001 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Counrty Music has always been here. SportTeams has come & gone. If those Preds want to go hell let them be be gone tonight.Because "Music City USA" will survive without them!!! It will be more to come and go.Their Greed and Egos are what they play for.Not the Fans who might want them to stay.

By: NewYorker1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I really wish the Preds would just leave. I'm sick of hearing them crying about there's not enough people coming, which should tell them something. Typically when people don't attend something, that usually means they are NOT interested. Get the hell out of town you sorry bunch of losers. Smooches...

By: NewYorker1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

The guy with the shaved head is cute. He and I can make a deal that I think he'll be very pleased with.

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 6:00

"Get the hell out of town you sorry bunch of losers."Isn't it interesting how personal some are taking this?? Interesting and sad.

By: producer2 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

gdiafante,it is always the same 4 or 5 who must come to make their points first. Frankly I have tired of their rehtoric. Many of us who are supporters bring as much factual info as possible and these same people seem to dispute it with no facts of their own. Time will tell and there is not much more we can do about it.

By: idgaf on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Nice to see you are still kicking NYer

By: Magnum on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Why will it cost the taxpayers more if the Preds leave? We can just convert the arena into a convention center since there is such strong demand and taxpayer support for one (strong sarcasm). This whole thing is a joke. Even if they save this dog, it is still a dog and will be gone eventually.

By: NewYorker1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Magnum, I find your name to be very interesting and somewhat enticing for some strange reason.

By: slzy on 12/31/69 at 6:00

you would think the city paper and gannett would buy up blocks of tickets.