Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Decision delayed on lease for Preds

Authority wants time to review deal By MICHAEL CASS • Staff Writer (Tennessean) • March 5, 2008 After taking 15 weeks to hammer out the details of a new arena lease, representatives of the Nashville Predators' new owners said they were frustrated that the Metro Sports Authority wanted more than one week to review the agreement. The sports authority, which serves as the Predators' landlord at the city-owned Sommet Center, decided Tuesday not to vote on the matter this week. Voting this week would have allowed final lease approval to be placed on the Metro Council's March 18 meeting agenda, but authority members wanted more time. "I'm not going to be rushed to judgment on this thing," board member Arnett Bodenhamer said. The Predators' lead owner, David Freeman, thanked the authority for "all the time you have taken and will take" dealing with the issue. But spokesmen for the hockey team expressed their disappointment after the meeting. Issue called a 'distraction' Peter Heidenreich, a lobbyist for the Predators, said it's "a distraction" to have the lease "still hanging out there" as the Predators are a month away from finishing the regular season. The proposed new lease would give the Predators millions of new dollars to manage the Sommet Center. The new owners say they need the money to have a chance to succeed and keep the team here long-term. They want to start operating under those terms as soon as possible, attorney James Weaver said. After the owners and Mayor Karl Dean's administration finished negotiating basic lease terms Nov. 16, they spent more than three months reaching a longer agreement, which was completed Friday. Weaver said the owners didn't want the negotiations to take so long, but various issues held up the talks. "Everybody wanted it done faster," Weaver said. Emmett Edwards, the sports authority's executive director, said he would push for a vote in about two weeks, which would let the Metro Council take up the lease April 1.

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