Sports Authority OKs $207M concessions deal

Extension puts Sportservice in Bridgestone through 2023

The Sports Authority on Monday morning gave its final blessing to a 12-year, $207 million extension of Bridgestone Arena's concessions deal with Sportservice.

The authority delayed action last week, wanting to hear testimony from its experts, Metro Finance's Bob Lackey and arena-lease guru Larry Thrailkill.

Lackey said he was comfortable with the increased revenue projections — a bump of $16 million over the life of the deal — and reminded the authority that "one of the positives is that the local school system will be enhanced as two-thirds of non-hockey sales tax goes to local schools."

Those projections are based on what Predators COO Sean Henry characterized as conservative estimations.

"When you put in a new point-of-sale where you can take credit cards, what we've seen and other venues is 13 to 15 percent [growth]. We don't want to take that much of a leap of faith," he said, saying the projections show an initial 8.5 percent bump for hockey events and 3 percent for non-hockey events such as concerts.

Being an extension of an existing deal, the agreement was not subject to a provision in the Predators' lease requiring the arena operators to use a procedure "similar" to Metro government's bid process.

Authority member Rusty Thompson — ultimately the only person to vote against the deal — asked whether the Predators could wait until 2013, the end of the existing deal, and get better terms.

"We took advantage of the best year we've had. ... I put this deal with anybody's," he said. "We can't enter into negotiations with [Sportservice competitor] Aramark right now. We would have to buy it out or they would have to buy it out."

Under the terms of the deal, a new rent structure is put in place, changing the percentage of sales Sportservice will have to pay at certain revenue thresholds. Sportservice will also invest an initial $1.5 million into the arena and 0.5 percent of gross revenues will put placed into a dedicated fund for future capital improvements.

The only changes the authority made to the original proposal was language that any of the capital improvements remain property of the owner — that is the city — and some tweaks to the authority's relationship to the deal, making it an approving rather than contracting party.