Bridgestone Arena could get into the mix to host college hockey's main event.
During Tuesday's meeting of the Sports Authority, Nashville Predators President Sean Henry said two January University of Alabama-Huntsville hockey games scheduled for the arena could set up the Music City for a future run at the NCAA Men's Division I Hockey semifinals and finals, "The Frozen Four."
Henry, who came to Nashville from Tampa, which is scheduled to host the event in 2012, said some scoffed when that city made a push to play host to the games. Tampa will join Anaheim as the only Sun Belt cities to host the finals.
The tournament sites are set through 2014 and the NCAA has not yet sent out invitations to bid on future finals, but Henry indicated Bridgestone Arena will make a play once they are. The push will look to build on the recent success of securing a handful of SEC Men's and Women's Basketball Tournaments and the Women's Basketball Final Four.
Michelle Kennedy, the team's senior vice president and a former top athletic official at Vanderbilt, said the arena has a good reputation with college sports' governing body.
"This building is notorious for being accommodating," she said. "We aren't that much of a secret. The NCAA is a very small place."
The news comes the same day the Predators submitted to the Sports Authority its 2009 net worth certification. Under the terms of the team's lease with Metro, it is required to certify a net worth of greater than $50 million, ensuring the city can recoup its debt in the event of a default.
Under the lease, the team is required to submit that statement by July 1. The 2009 certification, provided by Lattimore Black Morgan & Cain, was more than 16 months late.
Henry said the 2010 statement, which was due in July, should be submitted at the authority's next meeting, in January. He said the most up-to-date audit of the team's has been delayed because the team is in the midst of refinancing some of its debt.
In an interview after the authority presentation, Henry said the team is also in the process of securing new investors, a deal he expects will be closed in "the next few weeks."
"We'll be at the stage to talk about it when it's done," he said.
Henry hopes the increased stability of the franchise and the influx of new money could lead to a re-work of the current lease, which was signed by the then-David Freeman-led local ownership group in 2007.
While praising local officials who worked with the team during the time, he said a new lease would preferably have a more realistic timetable – for example, financials would be submitted after the team's October audit, needed for NHL revenue sharing – and that a new incentives package may be needed.
"We are hitting [the current incentives] and blowing them away," he said.
Henry said those incentives could be tied to keeping Bridgestone Arena up-to-date, avoiding the fate of three late-1980s arenas – in Orlando, Miami and Charlotte – which all were closed or imploded within two decades of opening.
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