Arena Football coming back to Nashville?

Preds COO says 'preliminary conversations' underway to return AFL to Bridgestone

The Arena Football League may return to Nashville in 2013.

Predators Chief Operating Officer Sean Henry said an unnamed AFL team could relocate to Bridgestone Arena in time for the 2013 season. He will bring the possibility before the Sports Authority at its Sept. 15 meeting.

Nashville has twice before had AFL teams, both named the Kats. A leasing dispute caused the sale and move of the first incarnation, which played at 501 Broadway between 1997 and 2001. The second, owned by Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams, operated from 2005 to 2007 and struggled with ticket sales.

Henry, who in his previous job with the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning shared an arena with the AFL's Tampa Bay Storm, said it is possible for the indoor, summer-league version of the sport to thrive.

"I don't like to use the word 'fail.' It wasn't successful because there were two people in the office running it," he said.

Henry said the team would follow the operational melding model put in place last year that effectively merged arena and hockey operations. The AFL team would be "programmed like a concert," with the full weight and force of the Predators' marketing, ticket sales and operational staff.

"Now you have 25 people running it," he said.

Henry said the move would make the arena a "12-month facility" and could potentially draw 100,000 people to the venue. He declined to name the AFL franchise with which he's having "preliminary discussions," because the team still has a lease, but he emphasized that he is "very sincere" in the effort.

The AFL cancelled its 2009 season before relaunching in 2010. It currently has 18 franchises. The owner of the Tulsa Talons told the Tulsa World last week the team is "looking at (two) opportunities outside of Tulsa." That franchise appears to be the only one publicly vetting a move or sale.