Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Under-the-table state deal allows Predators to sap millions from non-hockey sales taxes on city-owned arena

These are exactly the multi-million-dollar under-the-table deals that you have to worry about when the city and the state grants subsidies to pro sports teams:

That part about Garth Brooks is particularly disturbing. The country music star came to Nashville to help the city by raising funds for flood recovery. The Nashville Predators flipped the huge sales tax windfall (which could have gone to the city to help with flood recovery) into private income. On top of that they justified the gain with a lie: that they had to rearrange their schedule to accommodate Brooks after Brooks had worked around to help them. That they would exercise guile about a charity event is particularly loathsome in my book.

But who paved the way in state government? Based on a Twitter exchange I had yesterday with Phil Williams and Scene reporter J.R. Lind, I gather that Tennessee Democrats (Gary Odom?) had some legislative oversight of the bill that hustled these provisions in on Metro's contract with the Preds. But it looks like former Governor Phil Bredesen's revenue department also had a hand in this, although the revenuers seem to deny to Mr. Williams that they have relevant records (much like the Predators' front office denied having the paper trail that CVB had).

And the Dean Administration? If it comes to keeping up with how their home team conducts its NHL business with influential state Democrats they look inept or willfully ignorant. They may not be at fault for the funneling of vast sums of government revenue to sports enterprise, but they also seem to have done nothing to safeguard tax revenues by calling public attention to questions of where sales taxes from events might come and go through the CVB. Then again, Karl Dean has never struck me as the kind of Mayor who wants to count on public attention or support beyond that which he receives at election time.

UPDATE:  NewsChannel5 announced today (Wednesday, Nov 23) that reporter Phil Williams will divulge the identity of the individual(s) who leveraged millions in non-hockey sales tax revenues for the hockey club on their 6 pm broadcast.

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