Please spread the word, and take the time to read it.
Predators fans have been through quite a lot in the last few years. First it was the team being sold, and what looked like an impending move to Canada. Then a fire sale of top talent to the eastern conference (so that Craig Leipold could go buy our competition in the west). Then a lengthy process of first going with other outside ownership, then bringing a local ownership group into the picture and renegotiating a lease with the city to help make the team more profitable.
Then new ownership actually got to take control of the team halfway through the season. During the next off season, they promised to invest in the team and re-sign all our core young players (which they did) and we were ready for a year where we finally might make it out of the first round of the playoffs. Then star offensive weapon Alexander Radulov was persuaded to defect and skip out on his NHL contract to play in the upstart Russian league – the KHL. Not only were some Pred fans disappointed that we weren’t picking up any additional talent, but now the team had lost a major piece of its offense too late in the off-season to find a replacement it could afford. This after losing so much talent to the fire sale, and Steve Sullivan’s back injury.
Top all this off with the constant rumor and speculation (mostly from several papers ‘up north’) that it is only a matter of time before we inevitably lose the Predators to either contraction or, more likely, relocation.
It is pretty easy to see how one could become rather depressed as a hockey fan in Nashville. It is very easy to feel that the individual ticket-buying fans are the only ones that care and are being left out to dangle in the wind.
But a few things to remember:
Media Support: We give the local media a lot of flack around here because we as fans aren’t satisfied with the amount, or at times the quality, of coverage. But as i’ve heard several very knowledgeable people say lately – we have it pretty good compared to many other cities with NHL clubs – even some of the more “traditional markets”.
- Remember back when “we” held that big rally in July of ’07 – we showed up, but a whole bunch of other people put their time and money into that to organize it as well. 104.5 The Zone dedicated hours and hours of time to talking nothing but hockey (*cough* usually takes them weeks to talk that much hockey *cough*). Someone had to organize and pay for that event at the Sommet Center. We showed up to their party.
- Hockey and Predator focused shows on two other sports talk radio stations (besides the “flagship” station that has an interest in the Preds success) – HockeyBuzz Radio and hours of pre-game on WNSR 560AM and a few shows here & there on 106.7 The Fan. WNSR in particular has stepped up with a ton of hockey programming lately. Not the best and strongest in the world, but it is there
- Newspapers across the country are trimming staff right and left. The Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star Telegram used to each have writers covering the Dallas Stars. They have now reached an agreement to “share” coverage of the team. Meanwhile in Nashville the little ‘ol Tennessean has not one but TWO writers for the Predators (John Glennon and Jessica
HoppBliss), while the Nashville City Paper has another writer of its own ( . Even the business focused Nashville Post has broken and covered several stories regarding the Preds. Not a day goes by (even non-game days) that there aren’t at least 2-3 Preds stories posted by these various papers. Not every NHL club can say that.
- Local ownership stepped in to buy the team. Yes, they had some funding help from outside, but the majority of the funds put up to buy the team were put up by local business owners. People who weren’t even the biggest hockey fans, but who knew that Nashville didn’t need to lose this team. Yes, they knew the fans were here and that the fans would support the team, but they had to stick their necks out and lay a LOT of money on the line, and they came through.
- Sponsors and advertisers had to step up too. Craig Leipold and Steve Violetta did all they could to alienate local ownership by treating it as a God-given right to own and operate a professional hockey club in Nashville, rather than treating it like any other business that has to be sold, promoted, and managed. One of the main reasons the club wasn’t making much money is that there weren’t enough sponsors and advertisers bringing in revenue. There isn’t a professional sports team on the planet that can pay all its expenses on gate, merch, and concession revenues alone – even if they sold out every night. Corporate sponsorships and advertising are a key source of revenue.
That last point brings me to what prompted this blog post.
We recently switched the hosting for ghia over to Dolphini Networks. Not only was it a major upgrade to our quality of service, but Dolphini is locally owned & operated and a major sponsor of the Predators. Great for us all around. As a result of switching over, we got to hang out with Dolphini owner Michael Krause at their table in the All Inclusive Zone at a game.
During the 3rd period Michael and I started chatting and he mentioned that he was much like Preds owner David Freeman – not a big hockey fan before the sale of the team, but wanted to support the community so he stepped up as a major corporate sponsor. A bit later I said “thanks” from all of us fans, that we really appreciated what he and others like him had done. I felt it was a unique opportunity to directly tell a major sponsor “thanks” in person for supporting the team I love (rather than just buy Pepsi over some other soda once and a while, or use First Tennessee as my bank).
His response shocked me.
After a few minutes, he came back and thanked me for thanking him. He said in the entire time they had been a major corporate sponsor, not one fan had approached him and thanked him for his support. I’m sure he’s been told “thank you” by the Predators organization itself a million times. And I’m sure there’ve been lots of “You guys sponsor the Preds, right? I love the Preds” conversations. But somehow, none of us had ever bothered to sit down and directly thank the man that is pouring a LOT of money into supporting this team.
And i’m sure he’s not alone. While I can go out of my way to buy one soda over another or fillup at a certain gas station – most of us don’t make web/data hosting decisions, or buy a cars and diamond rings everyday.
So here’s a request to all Predators fans:
Take 3 minutes out of your day and write a quick email to a few of these companies. Everyone just grab a few random ones so we make sure they all get a few notes.
In no particular order (links are to the “contact us” pages)-
- The Sommet Group
- First Tennessee Bank
- Vanderbilt Medical Center
- Toyota Trucks
- Jack in the Box
- Shane Company
- Bud Light
- DEX Imagaing and Printing
- Southwest Airlines
- Cracker Barrel
- and the whole list of sponsors.