Predators, Nashville agree to 30-year arena lease extension

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Nashville Predators finally have the kind of security the former expansion franchise has been wanting for years after agreeing to a new 30-year arena lease that runs through 2049.

The Predators announced the agreement Thursday for Bridgestone Arena at a Metro Nashville Sports Authority meeting. The sports authority is expected to vote on the new lease next month.

"This is exactly where we want to be — in the center of downtown and playing an integral role in our community's growth and development for the next 30 years," said Sean Henry, Predators' chief executive officer and president.

The extension comes 12 years after Craig Leipold, now owner of the Minnesota Wild, announced a deal to sell the franchise to Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie. That deal in May 2007 fell through after Balsillie started taking season-ticket deposits in Hamilton, Ontario, and local businessmen bought the team instead.

Since the Predators and Nashville revised the arena lease last in 2012, more than $78 million has been spent on improvements and renovations. Bridgestone Arena has hosted the 2014 Women's Final Four, the 2016 NHL All-Star Game and the 2017 Stanley Cup Final. The Southeastern Conference has made the arena home for its men's basketball tournament with an occasional women's tournament through 2035.

The Predators will take a 153-game sellout streak into next season.

This new deal will eventually end a Nashville city subsidy that costs Metro Nashville approximately $3.5 million a year for arena maintenance and improvements. The Predators will use money from sales and ticket taxes to help pay those costs. Nashville, through the sports authority, had been responsible for investing an estimated $183 million into the arena over the next 20 years.

Henry also announced at Thursday's meeting the Predators plan to spend $350 million in renovations and maintenance to the arena over the next 20 years. The Tennessean reports the first phase of those renovations scheduled for 2021 to add about 1,200 seats and a new press box.

"It's a moment when the city can look back and say, 'Aha, our investment in this team has paid off,'" Nashville Mayor David Briley said. "And now we're at a point where we don't need to worry about public subsidy for this team."


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