As they say – whoever they are – the devil is in the details.
The Tennessean reports that almost three months after the Nashville Predators reached a deal with the city to keep the team there for at least another two seasons, it appears the deal is getting bogged down in the small print and the local government's patience is running out.
Here's an idea, then. Forget the deal was ever reached, rip it up while it still isn't iron-clad and let's move on, for everyone's sake. Move the team to Kansas City to see how long it will take to fail there.
I mean, geez, isn't this getting a little tiresome? We all know that this lease simply bought Nashville a little more time to play hockey with the big boys before it goes back to being the minor league hockey city it should have always been. We all know the Predators will leave after the 2009-10 season when they lose $20 million or don't average a paid attendance of 14,000, or both.
This is not a shot at the good people of Nashville. The ones who support the Predators are as rabid as any other, there just aren't near enough of them to make it work. And there never will be. Live with it. As a resident of South Carolina once told me, "We get hockey. We just don't like it."
If the paying public in Nashville were doing anything remotely significant to rally around this team, it might be a different story. But here's something that should tell you all you need to know about the market: Before the news of the sale was officially announced Nov. 16, the Predators were averaging (a bogus) 14,403 per game in attendance. Since then, going into Tuesday night's home game against the Detroit Red Wings, they've averaged (a bogus) 14,255.
Just to spell it out, that means that fewer people have been coming out to the games since the team got its new deal. How's that for support? Oh yeah, the Predators give out about 2,000 free tickets per game, so their actual paid attendance numbers are significantly lower.
Meanwhile, in order to keep the team in Nashville, the city will give the new owners $6.8 million a year in public money that could be going to schools and roads and social programs, along with a bunch of other incentives to attract more events to the Sommet Center.
Without a lease, the Predators could still leave after this season, but would be subject to an $18 million exit fee, not to mention the embarrassment suffered by local owners who bought the team with the clear intention of keeping it in Nashville.
Too bad. Everybody should cut bait while they can the way former Predators owner Craig Leipold did prior to getting a sweetheart deal to buy a team that actually makes money; the Minnesota Wild. It's going to happen anyway, so why delay the inevitable?
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.