Rex: Sports Authority dipping into Predators revenue

Sunday, August 30, 2009 at 11:45pm

Circus Maximus

With the start of football season Rex is in a sports-minded mood. Will Lane Kiffin be a lame kitten at the University of Tennessee? Will Vanderbilt go bowling again? Rex is excited and decided to take a look around Nashville's sports world and asks...

Who died and made him king?

Rex has been keeping tabs on Nashville's Sport Authority meetings the last few months and wasn't the least bit surprised to see Nashville's Convention and Visitors Bureau chief Butch Spyridon take aim at some of the members of the board after they got to meddling in the convention center debate.

One of the more interesting discussions lately that likely has Butch and others banging their heads against the wall has revolved around the Predators developing, with their own money, “The Reserve,” a premium seating area that the team had projected would produce $400,000 of additional revenue for them this season.

Note again that the money to pay for this project would come from the team, not the city or the taxpayers nor certainly the Sports Authority, who doesn't produce a dime in revenue nor have a nickel to spend. Rex understands that the initial holdup to the team doing this project was created by Metro's legal department.

Once the legal eagles were happy that it was OK for the team to spend its own money to upgrade our arena (well, duh), one would think that it would be off to the races or at least off to a great Brat and a brew... but, noooo! The chairman of the Sports Authority's finance committee, a financial genius named Rusty Lawrence, a.k.a. King Rusty, wants “40 percent of the gross revenue” from The Reserve before he (his word folks, not mine) will “approve” the project.

The team spends its own money to upgrade the arena and the Sports Authority extorts 40 percent of the revenue generated from the improvement for simply giving its blessing at a monthly meeting?

Rusty has been watching too many reruns of The Sopranos as this is a deal only Tony could propose with a straight face. Rex has been apparently working under the misimpression that the Sports Authority was supposed to support sports.

Was his PR guy was out of town?

Last week Rex saw that Frank Ward, the new owner of the Sounds, spoke to the daily fish wrapper about his team. He said, “Triple A today can run from a low of $20 million for a team to a high of $75 million for the best. In other words, does Nashville want professional baseball?

“...The people of Nashville and city have to decide whether they want professional baseball. And, if the answer is ‘yes,’ then we have to figure out a way to build a new stadium,” he added. “We always looked at the Sounds baseball investment as part of a bigger real estate development project, and I think we still do.”

Rex will attempt to translate this for the financially challenged:

Ward knows that $20 million was the most ever paid for a minor league franchise prior to his purchase of the Sounds for $25 million last year, so the $75 million number means he hopes to walk into Nashville, invest $25 million, plus $2 million or $3 million more to fancy up Greer Stadium, demand free land, no taxes ever and a big fat incentive from the city to build a new ballpark, leverage it into a $75 million exit fee and fly back to New York with all the money (and with his kid, who will have graduated from Vanderbilt by that time).

Frank, talk to us about hot dogs and how nice the new bathrooms look. We would rather not know about all the money you are going to make.

Cut it off and give it to Arkansas

While not exactly sport in the classic sense, Memphis politics is a blood sport in Rex's book and never without entertainment. If you thought Brett Favre couldn't make up his mind as to whether he should retire or not, check this out.

First, in 2008, Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton announced that he would be stepping down from his position that he was first elected to in 1991. He said he would be gone effective July 31, 2008.

He made this announcement just a little more than 90 days after his re-election to a fifth term and to say it ticked off a lot people is an understatement. Herenton said his early departure was because he wanted to be superintendent of Memphis City Schools, the job he had before he was mayor.

Herenton later said that he would not leave the office of mayor unless he got the position as the superintendent of schools and that he ran for re-election only in order to protect the city of Memphis from the other candidates, including former State Rep. and current Councilwoman Carol Chumney.

When the day came for him to quit, Herenton changed his tune and said he would serve out his term until 2011.

This past April, Herenton formed an exploratory committee to run in the 2010 U.S. congressional election for the 9th District of Tennessee, presumably in the Democratic primary against incumbent Congressman Steve Cohen. That got the rumor mills going again.

Sure enough, on June 25, 2009, Herenton announced his resignation as mayor, effective July 10. Then on July 6, he announced that he would delay his retirement until July 30. The shocker came when Herenton actually quit, but not without second thoughts.

Earlier this month he picked up papers to run in the special election to fill out his own term, which really sent everyone over the edge in the Bluff City. This past week he changed his mind again and said he would not seek his old office. No one would be surprised if he reverses again as the filing deadline for that race is next week. Meanwhile, Herenton is still expected to be a candidate for congress.

Rex tells you all this for one reason only. Isn't it great to be in Nashville.

4 Comments on this post:

By: jps13pat on 8/30/09 at 10:23

Sports Authority needs to throw the Preds a bone. Do they not understand how close they were to losing that team? A huge arena downtown with NO TEAM IN IT is exactly what Nashville needs. Seriously.

By: JeffF on 8/31/09 at 6:44

The only thing I can figure is that the Sports Authority member has been keeping a list of all the concessions the city has made to keep the Preds and equates that to an investment in the franchise and its future earnings. The city via the authority has been writing checks to the team for a couple of years now and would like to see some of that investment start coming back.

Not saying I believe the same thing (yet) but I sort of see his point.

By: Kosh III on 8/31/09 at 6:53

The Predators need to pay their own way and stop depending on welfare from the taxpayers. Ditto the Sounds and Titans.
Free enterprise, capitalism, market forces--any of that sound familiar?

By: idgaf on 8/31/09 at 9:28

Wouldn't surprise me that the sounds/stadium deal has already been made just like the CC and dumping the garbage burner which we were actually making money with.

These pols here are long range planners.