Last week, Powers Management (the company which operates Bridgestone Arena) and Metro Nashville and the Sports Authority announced a proposed new lease, pending approval by the Metro Nashville Sports Authority that relieves taxpayers of financial responsibility for Bridgestone Arena. At the same time, the Sports Authority will execute a tenancy agreement with the team that ensures Nashville’s team, the Nashville Predators, will remain at Bridgestone Arena for the next 30 years. This continued partnership between the team, Bridgestone Arena, the city and Metro Sports Authority will ensure continued growth and development of the facility through funding generated by event users, all while relieving Metro and taxpayers of financial responsibility.
“We are most appreciative of Mayor Briley, the Sports Authority and Metro’s support and partnership,” Predators CEO/President Sean Henry said. “The rise of our franchise and arena growth since the last agreement in 2012 is testaments to a model of public-private partnership and a community-wide embrace and passion for the Predators. Bridgestone Arena is the envy of our industry and could not be what it is today without so many partners coming together to maximize its value, economic impact and benefit to the community. 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. This partnership will allow us to book the best of the best events that appeal to all corners of our community, allow the Nashville Predators to thrive in Smashville and allow Powers Management to maintain the building in a world-class way while freeing Metro’s operating and capital budgets of any and all financial obligations.”
The most crucial element of the new lease is that it relieves the Metro Davidson County General Fund from all obligations of supporting Bridgestone Arena and the Predators. Under the new agreement, existing in-arena revenue streams will be utilized to maintain, improve and expand the building while eliminating Metro’s guarantees. And, by changing the funding model, Metro also retains funds for priorities such as the Sports Authority, municipal bonds on other projects and investing in future events.
More than 20 years ago, Mayor Phil Bredesen had a vision that Bridgestone Arena (with the Nashville Predators as its anchor tenant) would bring business, tourism and activity to lower Broadway. The partnership between the city and the team was further enhanced when local owners, the Loyal Legion and Mayor Karl Dean stepped forward to keep the team in Nashville in 2007, and restructured arena agreements and incentives in 2012 to create the booming ‘Arena district,’ which has grown exponentially as the team and city invested in the building, leading to an annual economic impact of $560 million and approximately 3,800 jobs.
From the initial agreements in 1997 to the 2019 agreement, the structure has evolved from Metro bearing responsibility for operating costs and capital improvements for the arena with Powers Management having little or no incentive to book additional events, to Powers assuming more risk and more upside for making Bridgestone Arena one of the busiest venues in North America while eliminating Metro budget subsidies for operating costs and capital improvements. This evolution has created two Ford Ice Centers and resulted in $80 million in private renovations to the Arena in the past eight years, upwards of two million guests annually, Pollstar Arena of the Year honors in both 2014 and 2017, and the Nashville Predators being named the No. 1 franchise in all of sports by ESPN.
These new agreements pave the way for the best public-private facility partnership in the United States through 2049. In the new agreements, Powers Management and the Nashville Predators continue to strive toward being a benefit to the city and driver of economic growth downtown and beyond, while removing the capital burden from the city financially.