Sports Authority OKs LP Field improvement bonds

Predators, authority also agree to extend deadline for incentive negotiation

The Metropolitan Sports Authority has given its thumbs up to $28 million in bonds to renovate parts of LP Field.

In a series of three votes — Rusty Lawrence was the sole no vote on two of them, the third was unanimous — the authority gave its go-ahead for the money for new scoreboards, sound system, elevators, so-called "fan entertainment zones" and ribbon boards. The Metro Council must also approve the issuance at its meeting Tuesday night.

Titans Vice President Don MacLachlan said the improvements are expected to cost $23.5 million and the funding sources for the bonds — Metro's $1 million annual obligation plus revenue from the seat-user fee, which will be raised $1 to $3 in 2013 — should generate $23.2 million over the 22-year life of the bonds.

MacLachlan compared LP Field to what the Titans designate as "comparable" stadia — the 23 NFL facilities built or significantly improved between 1989 and 2009 — and noted the vast majority of them have the upgrades LP Field will undergo.

Despite voting for the resolutions, authority member Steve North expressed concern of using the seat-user fee — which was designed as a reserve fund for annual maintenance — for one-time improvements.

Deadline extended for Preds incentive negotiations

Without action by year's end, the Predators incentive agreement with Metro — a roughly $7.8 million annual payment from government to arena operator — would have automatically renewed June 30, 2012.

The Predators, however, have agreed to extend that New Year's Eve deadline 120 days. The authority on Tuesday unanimously approved the move.

"This gives us plenty of time to explore how we want to look at the negotiations," authority chair J.D. Elliott said.

While the negotiations themselves will be between the mayor's office and the team, the authority will be represented in those talks. Predators COO Sean Henry also presented the arena's budget, noting the operating loss is projected for next year at $5.7 million, down from $6.1 million this year. 

During the discussions of the capital budget, Lawrence asked Henry about increasing the seat-user fee at the arena — currently $2 for non-hockey events and $1.75 for Predators games — to help with capital improvements at Bridgestone, similar to the deal approved for the Titans. Henry said the team was open to any idea that would "alleviate the burden" on the general fund.