Predators, concessionaire close to new deal

New agreement includes capital investment, 'more money falling into arena's pockets'

The Nashville Predators and concessions vendor Sportservice are working towards a new agreement, the first reworking of their contract since the arena opened nearly 15 years ago.

Predators COO Sean Henry said the new deal changes the rent structure and includes new capital investment guarantees. Under the current plan — set to expire in 2013 — Sportservice's rents are capped at 48 percent of revenue. Under the new deal, Sports Service could pay up to 52 percent of revenues the Bridgestone Arena.

In addition, Sportservice will invest $1 million in improving concession stands and other vending locations, primarily upgrading point-of-sale technology. In the next three years, the company will put to work an additional $1.5 million in capital improvements and dedicate 0.5 percent of revenues to an ongoing capital fund that will last the life of the deal.

Though the current contract doesn't expire for two years, Henry said the new deal will take effect immediately. It still requires approval from the Sports Authority. At the most recent meeting of the authority in July, Henry was asked if he put the contract renewal out for open bid. As he did then, he dismissed those concerns Monday.

"If you have the opportunity to renew a deal with an existing partner, you get better terms," he said. "And it stops the open window of perpetual renewal."

Under the 1996 deal, Sportservice's deal renews automatically every 10 years until the end of the team's 40-year lease with the city.

Henry said the arena's food and beverage revenues were 45 percent over budget in the recently concluded fiscal year and 20 percent higher than during the '09-'10 fiscal year.

From a practical standpoint, the improvements in infrastructure should result in shorter wait times for beer and hot dogs as the speed of credit-card readers are improved, for example. Decreased wait times will then lead to even higher food and beverage revenues.

"If you don't have to wait in line, you'll jump into line," he said.