The Nashville Predators lost 800 season-ticket holders from last season. Their payroll has increased by $10 million. The economy -- to use a technical term employed by many elite analysts at leading financial institutions -- "sucks royally."
Yet the team tells The Tennessean that it should turn a profit of $145,000 this season. Which, in Tennessee, makes them millionaires (rim shot).
Ownership said that sponsorship and suite revenues have increased by about 6 percent over last year. The Predators, a privately run company, denied a request to present tangible data to support the increased revenue reports.
While it's true the owners have discussed the possibility of buying up tickets if necessary to reach the 14,000 paid-attendance mark needed for full NHL revenue-sharing benefits, management does not believe it will face that situation. Freeman and Ed Lang, the team's president of business operations, say that based on both current ticket sales and sales forecasts, the Predators believe they will top the 14,000 mark without the owners opening up the wallets.
Nashville has averaged 13,744 paid fans per game over the season's first 22 home contests and has 19 homes games remaining. Over the past two seasons, the Predators have averaged better than 14,400 during this stretch, and Lang is projecting the same kind of trend this year.
Let's state this again for the record: The Predators are a franchise that has, like Phoenix, never given its fans a playoff series victory yet. That's something that can transform a fan base in the short term.
As The Forechecker points out in his analysis of the story, it's the sponsorships that make the difference. The attendance figures have always been important for the team's revenue-sharing benchmarks and city lease; but the reason the Predators have frequently been on the endangered franchise list (besides having a charlatan as a co-owners) is due to the lack of corporate support in Nashville. They're making in-roads with local businesses; now it's just a matter of turning that goodwill into high-end season-ticket sales.
Mirtle's got a take on this as well. Pretty good news in trying times. Who knew the Nashville Predators would end up on firmer financial footing than the KHL this season? Does anyone know the Russian phrase for "mandatory salary rollbacks?"