Nashville Predators, Bridgestone Arena set for takeover

Bill Haslam, the former Governor of the State of Tennessee, has reached an agreement to acquire NHL ice hockey franchise the Nashville Predators in a deal that will also include the team’s Bridgestone Arena.

Haslam is expected to become a minority owner in the next few months and he will become the team’s majority owner over the next few years as part of a multi-phased transaction.

The Predators confirmed in a statement that current chairman Herb Fritch has agreed to sell the majority of his stake to Haslam, with the transaction subject to the completion of a due diligence process and the necessary approvals from the NHL.

In 2007, Predators Holdings LLC purchased the Predators and Powers Management, which operates Bridgestone Arena. The deal saw Predators Holdings LLC assume control of the day-to-day operation of the team and arena.

Sean Henry, president and chief executive of the Predators and Bridgestone Arena, said: “From the time our ownership group, made up of day one season ticket holders, gathered together in 2007 to purchase and guarantee the franchise’s future in Nashville, the goal has been to ensure that stewardship of the team is in strong local hands.

“The pending addition of Governor Haslam to the ownership group solidifies that local stewardship for years to come, with the shared philosophy for making Smashville the most unique sports market in our league and country as our players and coaches compete for the Stanley Cup each season. We are excited and appreciative that he has agreed to join the ownership team.”

Financial terms of Haslam’s deal were not disclosed, but Sportico recently valued the club’s worth at $680m (£55m/€646m).

Haslam’s brother Jimmy currently owns the NFL’s Cleveland Browns and Major League Soccer franchise Columbus Crew. Bill Haslam’s net worth is reportedly more than $2bn.

Last year, the Predators formed a new organisation, Sabertooth Sports & Entertainment, to engage in operational and sales opportunities outside of Bridgestone Arena.

SS&E provides services across project management, consulting, sales, marketing, event booking and production, ice rink operations, venue operations, special event creation, economic development and all administrative support and other services related to sports, events, venues, and entertainment.

Image: Stephen Yeargin/CC BY-SA 2.0/Edited for size