Thursday, September 23, 2010

Nashville's corporate welfare kings on ice skim money off concert ticket sales and violate Metro lease

It's not enough that the Nashville Predators are subsidized $8,000,000 each year by Metro Nashville taxpayers as revenues for our services continue in a perennial free-fall. According to Michael Cass and Nate Rau, one of the hockey club's managerial partners is skimming more money from Bridgestone concert ticket sales than the Metro lease allows:
Powers Management, which runs the arena for Metro, has routinely charged a facility fee of $2.50 as part of the price of a concert ticket, despite a stated cap in the lease of $2 for ticket surcharges on "non-team events." Powers executives said the additional 50 cents from each concertgoer, which they described as a standard industry practice, has netted the company $150,000 to $200,000 a year since at least 2002 to help pay for building maintenance.
If the heavily-subsidized Predators ownership team cannot meet their financial obligations without cheating the system and overcharging consumers of non-hockey events, then Nashville should re-evaluate whether it is in our city's best interest to continue to prop up a flagging business interest.

The rationale the Preds execs use to violate the terms of the lease is dubious. Leases are arbitrary and capricious, open to violation at the whim of industry? Unquestioning and uncritical Predators supporters I encounter encourage submission to team owner interests and they seem loath to stipulate how many millions of dollars in government assistance are too high a price to pay for waving pom-poms.

Phil Bredesen, our former sports-and-entertainment Mayor, conceded that he could not make a case for his hand-outs to pro teams based on direct economic impact when there is no direct economic impact for the local community and the benefits are at best "intangible." I do not have a problem with chasing intangible benefits. My problem resides in the brutal reality that we throw tangible dollars that could have direct economic impact after them. And the thanks we get from sports owners is not direct returns on our investments, but news of finessed, ulterior and self-serving schemes.

1 comment:

  1. The problem here is that it's not entirely clear that the Preds are in violation of the lease in regards to the ticket fee. The quote from the Metro Finance office, which actually works with this matter on a regular basis, signs off on it. Of course, the Tennessean conveniently buries that point in the final paragraph. The paper has fallen into this trap before, getting all worked up over a supposed ripoff by the team of Nashville taxpayers, only to find out they got ahead of the facts.