paul nicholson

Archive for the ‘Nashville’ Category

ghia Closing

In Christy, Nashville, Work on October 11, 2009 at 12:09 am

For those that haven’t heard, my wife is closing down her store. While we both very much still believe in the mission of the store – bringing stylish fair trade and ethically made products to market at “Target” prices – she decided that she needed to close the store down. This was due to a number of factors, not the least of which was having more time free to spend with our son Ian, of course.

ghia Closing

I am so proud of what she did with the store, both in the good it did for so many people, and the awareness it raised about fair trade – but also of how she was able to run the business. Outside of some starting capital, the business very quickly supported itself, which is something most businesses can’t say in good times, much less in this economy.

The good news for all of you is that she has a FABULOUS sale clearing out her remaining inventory. Great time to do a little early christmas shopping if you ask me :-)

Check the clearance sale here – www.shopghia.com

BNA refuses to modernize

In Cool Tech, Family, Me, Nashville, Work on August 8, 2009 at 2:00 pm

My new job requires me to travel quite a bit more than my last job (which required basically no travel at all). I’ve begun the life of a road warrior to a small extent, already going in and out of BNA (Nashville’s airport) a couple of times a month in the last little bit.

Anyone that knows BNA and knows me, knows this means frustration. You see, i’m a geek and like my power-hungry gadgets, and BNA is practically void of convenient power outlets. While most airports in the country have rows of waiting area seats complete with A/C and USB power outlets, BNA has only a few power outlets scattered under payphones, behind doors, and at the base of columns, like the picture to the right. With few exceptions, all of these require sitting on the floor to access.

(continued after the break)
Read the rest of this entry »

Radio Stars

In Christy, Entertainment, Hockey, Me, Nashville, Sports on March 22, 2009 at 7:22 pm

Real quick post here…

A while back the Predators asked a bunch of season ticket holders to come in and participate in recording clips for some new radio ads. They said they would post them online, but i haven’t seen them yet…

Well, i finally caught a few fast enough to record (though only one from start to finish).

Christy and I are featured pretty prominently in a few of them, so i decided to take what clips i’d been able to grab so far, chop them up, and make a version with just Christy and I :-)

Oh, and here’s the one complete original i’ve been able to grab so far for anyone else that wanted to hear the commercials.

Thanksgiving in February for Preds fans

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on February 9, 2009 at 9:22 pm
This is a long post, but one i would love every Predators fan to check it out.
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 Hopp Bliss), 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 Businesses:

  • 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)-

…and to show you just how far i’ve gone – i disabled AdBlockPlus on nashvillepredators.com, so i’m back to seeing ads on all Preds pages. Support those that support the Preds.

Free advice for the Preds marketing department

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on September 24, 2008 at 7:07 am

I was a marketing minor in college, so clearly, i am an expert to listen to in the area of marketing. With that in mind, here are a few ideas i have that i think could help the much improved effort already underway for the Nashville Predators.

List Game Dates/Times Everywhere
The presence around town of Predators billboards is vastly improved over the last several years. They look better and there are just more of them. Trouble is, they don’t have one very key piece of information – when are the games? Through the summer the drive has been for season tickets, and that makes sense. But trying to sell seasons tickets through most of the year doesn’t make as much sense. After all, people buying season tickets are probably already fans. That’s no who you need to be reaching.
The main push needs to be for individual game sales from casual fans (or people who have never even seen a game). Those people buy tickets more impulsively. They want something to do this weekend. They just remembered a spouse/child’s birthday and need to do something, etc. They can only do that if they know when the games will be. Everyone knows when Titans games are (Sunday is pretty easy to remember) but not everyone has (or thinks to look at) their pocket calendar of Preds games.

I’ve seen the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs use this to great effect. Every month they would put a new billboard up listing games that month. It was very easy for fans driving down the highway to see it and think “oh, i could catch a game this weekend” or “hey, there’s a game on my husband’s birthday – i bet he’d like that”. Last year the Preds had a billboard up pushing the Capitals game, which was good, but putting up a month of games lets people plan for more than just one option. (The widespread use of digital billboards around town also makes changing the game listings much easier/cheaper to do) (Here’s an example of one done by Michigan St football)

Tell businesses why it makes sense to partner with the Preds – not “support” them.
I was very happy to hear David Freeman say last year, when he took over as lead owner of the Preds, that he was not asking for anyone’s charity. He didn’t want the Predators to be a charity case and didn’t think or want to say that business “should” support the Predators as part of their civic duty. Unfortunately the Radio “ticket-thon” that 104.5 did last week did exactly that. Operating far outside their comfort zone, George Plaster and crew begged people to support the Predators and “buy tickets to 1 or two games” or “buy a 10 pack…whatever you can afford”. While very well intentioned and very appreciated, the message sent to businesses was the wrong one.

For one brief moment though, someone did say the right thing: When interviewing someone from Vanderbilt Sports Medicine (the new official health care provider of the Predators), the question was asked “why sponsor the Preds”. Among other things in his answer, the Vandy rep said (and i paraphrase) “because they are a great way to reach our target market. There is a lot of overlap between who they draw to games and the customers we want to reach”. BINGO! That message needs to be being said VERY loud and VERY often.

Now, i trust (and hope) that David Freeman and crew, when going out to give presentations to businesses, are saying this and have all sorts of demographic data to back it up. Businesses buying tickets for Preds games just makes sense – from a business point of view. And we aren’t talking about it-helps-keep-the-Preds-in-town-and-if-we-don’t-Nashville-will-look-bad-and-top-talent-won’t-want-to-move-to-Nashville-and-you’ll-have-to-hire-lesser-people. That’s not it. The connections are much more direct.

  1. Advertising with the Predators (in the arena, on TV, and on the radio) is a fantastic way to reach a passionate crowd of typically young, upper- and upper-middle-class people. The associate with teams is a proven way to build fantastic brand loyalty among people who have money to spend and are still building loyalties. There are more numbers out there to back all this up… if i was back in a marketing job i’d go on and on here…
  2. It’s a great way to reward employees and build a good corporate environment. I know of multiple businesses that have used this to great success: Buy a pair of season tickets – good seats – to the Predators. Then give it away to top performers. Maybe its a contest for whoever is the top sales person that week gets the tickets. Maybe employees get the tickets for a month when they have been with the company for X number of years. Whatever it is, people go crazy for what they perceive to be a valuable commodity – regardless of the actual value. Example: Season tickets right next to the governor and his wife (section 112, around the 4th row) cost $156 per game. I know very few commission-based salespeople (which i work with) who will go crazy and bend over backwards for $150 spiff (only interested in the big bucks) – but tickets like this? Very prestigious and they will go nuts for them – working OT, etc. I’ve seen it happen more than once. And of course there are other seats on the suite level that include all you can eat food/drinks packages for about the same money.

Oh – and the Preds have meeting facilities in the arena – so you can get a great group rate on the game and have your quarterly strategy session in the arena (catered) for a great package deal. But so very few people know about these options.

Again, i trust that this conversation is taking place, but it is happening behind closed doors right now. It needs to be shouted from the mountain tops.

Make the ‘value’ packages very clear and well promoted (during poor economic times)
Did you know you can get 4 tickets in the all-you-can-eat zone for $220? That’s 2.5hours of great family entertainment, all the hotdogs, burgers, nachos, peanuts, popcorn, water and soda you can handle for $55 each. Last year’s family fun packs that let a family of 4 go for $100 and included a free hotdog and soda was a fabulous deal too. In hard economic times, you have to emphasize that the games aren’t as expensive as people may think they are. And you’ll have better family bonding time at a game than at a movie (you can actually, ya know, talk to each other).

Side note: Promote the website better. It’s awesome.
Last plug i gotta make here is for the absolutely awesome website. Especially PredsTV. If you haven’t checked out Training Camp Central, its excellent. Reports on all the players and daily write-ups with interviews with coaches and players, etc. There are write-ups and highlight shows posted quickly after every game, and resources for fans all over.

PredTV is by far the highlight though, with videos posted all summer long showing what the players did during the off-season (JP Dumont’s kids are pretty cute), how prospect camp went, and more…




Every press conference the team does is available online as well:

Best way to stay caught up with what is on the website: add the following feeds to your feed reader (or to your MyYahoo or iGoogle page):
Predators News
New PredsTV Videos

Preds Fan Meet-Up

In Blog Stuff, Hockey, Nashville, Sports on September 14, 2008 at 7:35 pm
Predators Fans: Come one, come all!

Well, actually, let me be more specific…

There’s a pretty nice community of people from blogs, Flickr, Twitter, etc around “Pred Nation”. So, i’d like to see as many of us get together to actually meet the 3D versions of each other.

Where: Predators Training Camp – Centennial Sportsplex
When: Sat, Sept 20th 10:30am

We will meet in between the first and second training camp sessions (around 10:30am) at the tables in the front lobby of the Sportsplex building (near the front doors). I’ll be wearing a light blue work shirt that says “Geek” on the front and carrying around a camera. If you can’t find us, call 615-823-1734, that’ll ring my cell. Or you can DM me on Twitter @pwnicholson.

Now for the roll call (and link love) of the people i’d really love to see there. I’m sure i’m going to leave a few people off the list, but if you want to show, please do! You don’t have to be listed!

For full details on Predators Training Camp, check out “Training Camp Central

See ya there!

Predators 08-09 Roster Finalized

In Games, Hockey, Nashville, Sports on August 16, 2008 at 2:28 pm
(Warning: This article is full of sarcasm)

The Predators roster is still anyone’s guess. Personally, i take David Poile at his word that, right or wrong, they will plan on relying on prospects to come up and fill vital roster spots at the forward position (to be more specific, i think they’ll at least wait until camp and then make a free agent signing or trade based on what we need). Others like The Forechecker think (or at least hope) that the Preds will make another move before camp begins.

But of course all that is just talk. Those amazing hockey insiders at EA Sports have apparently used CIA level spying techniques (or maybe a time machine) to give us info that others can only speculate on.

Ladies and gentlemen, here is your NHL 09 Nashville Predators roster:

Forwards:
Jason Arnott, Radek Bonk, Jean-Pierre Dumont, Martin Erat, Vernon Fiddler, Martin Gelinas, Jan Hlavac, David Legwand, Scott Nichol, Jed Ortmeyer, Jerred Smithson, Steve Sullivan, Jordin Tootoo

Defensemen:
Greg de Vries, Dan Hamhuis, Ryan Suter, Shea Weber, Greg Zanon, Cody Franson

Goalies:
Dan Ellis, Pekka Rinne

So what can we glean from this?

  • Alexander Radulov, though under contract with the Predators, isn’t going to be in the NHL this year (he isn’t listed as a free agent either – just not in the game). He has been erased from existence (cue ‘Back to the Future’ clip here)
  • The Predators may lose Radulov, but will somehow talk Jan Hlavac out of signing with a Swedish Elite team and into coming back to Nashville. Wise move.
  • Steve Sullivan will be back on the ice, though skating a bit slower (or at least taking up a roster spot).
  • The Predators will resign the ageless Martin Gelinas despite all outward indications to the contrary. This is best explained by his ability to get a little press coverage every time the anniversary of the Great Gretzky Trade rolls around.
  • Despite going through all the hassle of arbitration and subsequent signing of Ville Koistinen to a new one year, one-way contract, the Predators will apparently buy him out with no trade in return and instead opt to go with minor leaguer Cody Franson. They will therefore have absolutely no offensively focused defensemen on the roster, which makes sense of course, given the obvious glut of scoring power at the forward position.

Wow. Just a heads up, if you try to play with this Predators roster, you’re gonna be in a world of hurt (not to mention have little resemblance to the team that will actually take the ice this year). I know the Predators won’t be favorites to win the cup, but at least we can take solace in the fact that we probably won’t be this bad. I hope…

Other notes of interest:

  • Greg Zanon (Mr Body Sacrifice to you) is still listed as the 15th best shot blocker on the Predators (yes, Jordin Tootoo, Jed Ortmeyer and Jason Arnott are clearly the team leaders in this category).
  • David Legwand is rated as the 6th fastest player in the NHL. That’s right folks, Steve Sullivan only looks faster because of his size apparently.
  • Martin Gelinas can also make his 38 year old knee, fresh from injury and surgery, propel him to the 3rd fastest spot on the roster.
  • Jordin Tootoo is the 7th toughest player in the league (hey Dallas, i though he was supposed to be a whiner?)
  • Overall Legwand is apparently our superstar in hiding. He is in the top three on the team in Speed, Acceleration, Deking, Agility, Offensive Awareness, Puck Control, Deflections…and probably a few more categories. Jason Arnott is really good too.

For the full Preds roster with all stats in fully sortable Google Spreadsheet format, check here.

As for the game itself, my big complaint last year was that few of the Predators players looked anything like themselves. Well, this year things aren’t looking much better, though it’s hard to say for sure. The NHL 09 website screenshot section features not a single picture with any Predators featured. The videos i have watched so far only had a single brief glimpse of Ryan Suter with his back turned to the camera. The only picture of a Preds player’s face from the game that i can find is on this IGN page (picture at right). I can’t tell for sure, but i can only assume from the “A” on the jersey that ends in the number 1 that it is either supposed to be Dumont or perhaps Legwand. Too bad it looks absolutely nothing like either of them. Meanwhile Paul Kariya, Vinny LeCavelie, Sindey Crosby, etc all look like themselves…at least a little. It looks like once again the Preds will be staffed by the generic-faced masses.

National TV Coverage

That lack of respect and consideration does fit nicely with the new TV schedule though. The NHL released the National TV schedule a few days ago (the FSN local TV schedule has yet to be released) and the Predators are all but absent. Out of 196 games scheduled to be televised on TSN, NBC, Versus, and Hockey Night In Canada – exactly 4 of them will feature the Nashville Predators. Now, i understand that the league wants to promote the Penguins and the Red Wings are always a huge draw, etc… and HNIC and TSN will naturally gravitate towards games with Canadian teams, but those teams have to play someone, right?

I guess we can’t complain too much…the Panthers, Coyotes, and Hurricanes are all on TV only 4 times (along with the Preds), while the Ducks and Kings are only on 3 times ,and the lowly Columbus Bluejackets are only featured on national TV 2 times out of 196 games. With no exposure at the national level, is it any wonder why these franchises are struggling? I know it’s a chicken-or-the-egg kinda problem, but this TV scheduling doesn’t help them out any.

Is it my judgment, or is it really there?

In Nashville on August 14, 2008 at 5:55 am

I hate that I’ve been too busy to post. I also hate that two posts in a row are about less than awesome experiences on the bus. So before i get started, let me again say that i’ve been very pleased with how safe, clean, and overall how reliable my bus riding experience has been so far (the washboard streets that are 5th Ave and Lafayette not withstanding).

But since school started back a fwe days ago, i’ve seen more and moor of what i would essentially call child abuse and i have to get it off my chest. Some things have been more severe than others to be sure, and much of it i think is just my own judgment and experience filter making me see things that aren’t there or at least exaggerating them. Certainly nothing i would call child protective services about. But…

Examples: Parents feeding an 18 month old and his 2.5 year old sister Cheetos – which the children first use as crayons and rub on the back of the seat in front of them before popping them in their mouths, with no intervention by the parent. Gross, and nutritionally negligent, but probably not as bad as i judge it to be. Then there are cases like the picture to the right. A little girl that couldn’t have been more than 2, allowed to wander the bus by herself and talk to strangers (including me) while her mom stayed on the phone talking to someone. More than once she fell when the bus stopped because she couldn’t hold her balance. The mom never flinched.

But other things are severe enough that i can have no response other than to be sad. Sad for the child, sad for the parent, sad for that parent as a child because often times the hereditary nature of dysfunction is so obvious, that the parent might as well stand up on the bus and tell us all about when…

Then there was this morning: A little boy who looked to be about 6 got on the bus wearing a backpack with his mom. Now, first off, school started a few days ago and he was getting on the city bus heading into town with her to the transfer station at about 8:00am – and they had to run to catch the bus. So either he wasn’t going to school or was going to be very late. After a while he got a few papers out of his bag and started identifying letters. Not reading, but just identifying letters. His mom helped him, and he got a few of them wrong but most right. While i think most 6 year-olds should be able to identify letters better than he could, it was still great to see her working with him and his clear desire to learn. But then it went bad. He coughed. A rough cough that may have explained why he was going to work with mom instead of to school. But he made a critical mistake and didn’t cover his mouth (like most kids his age). His mom then proceeded to yell at him to cover his mouth…and then slapped him. Three times. Hard. In the mouth. Hard enough that i could hear the slaps over the noise on the bus from about 8 feet away. Then the really odd part – the mom started to rock her large frame (she was probably around 250-300lbs) back and forth in her seat, the way you see some litte kids do when they’re upset. She did it for the rest of the ride in to the terminal (another 10 minutes). The child didn’t say a word and quietly put his school work back in his bag and sat in perfect, still silence.

Was it really that horrible – I guess not really. But watching it happen i was just filled with pity and sympathy for the situation. Prior to the cough/slap i was thinking how this child might be the first of his family to attend college, maybe even graduate high school (they got on at the stop in the projects). This was a picture of hope and a better life. Then suddenly a history of abuse (which is almost always learned and passed down through families) reached out and quite literally smacked the kid in the mouth. This kid may still grow up to be a great person, be successful (by whatever measure) and even do well academically…

But wow… the scene just hit me like a ton of bricks this morning.

Daily grind

In East Nashville, Me, Nashville on July 28, 2008 at 3:51 pm

Don’t get me wrong: i love relaxing and letting someone else drive, i love saving money, and love helping to save the environment. But losing an hour and a half of my day to extra commute time (over driving), feeling unproductive because my blackberry can only do so much, and watching disfunctional families abuse their kids while waiting at the bus terminal are all starting to wear on me today.

Today we do have the added entertainment of a Black Muslim evangelist spewing what i would call white-hate speech (about ‘the man locking away kids’ and saying that ‘white Christianity ruined Africa’) to anyone that doesn’t immediatly tell him to go away. He hasn’t tried me so far.

The funny part to me is that the buses are fine. i never see any trouble makers or problems on the bus, don’t feel uncomfortable, and generally have a nice time. You’d assume from stereotypes that my buses should be the worst: i take the #4 past the projects in East Nashville, and the #15 past the projects off LaFayette. They are really nice though. But at the station… You have to spend too long here and it needs to be cleaned up (of trash) and monitored better. I really may start waiting a few blocks up each route from here on out.

I also need to get my Sansa working again (if Rhapsody would get their act together) and remember that i can use my BlackBerry with Opera to make blog posts like this one. Helps pass the time for sure, though my readers may have to suffer through more grumpy rants about my day rather than read mostly about the Preds. :-)

Preds owner speaks out on Ownership/Radulov

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on July 14, 2008 at 8:11 pm

This afternoon, Predators lead owner David Freeman went on 104.5 The Zone with host George Plaster to answer questions about the latest on the Del Biaggio ownership mess, and even touched on the Radulov issue briefly.

Many thanks to 104.5 for having Freeman on, and i hope they don’t mind me posting this. I guess i’ll hear from them if they do :-)

(Sorry for the minor quality issues. I recorded this from my portable Sansa while riding on the bus, so you can tell when we went under bridges, etc.)

I made two versions. The first is the 12-minute “the good stuff” version (I tried to cross-fade it to make it obvious where i made cuts). The second is the full version, with only commercials cut.

Soundbite/highlights:

In regard to Del Biaggio and Warren Woo:

“In some ways we’re disappointed, in some ways we didn’t have real high expectations of ‘em”

In regard to the presentation Del Biaggio and Woo put together for potential investors:

“What’s disappointing about the documents is how they misrepresented the financial condition of our club”

“They were trying to raise money…so, they took a few liberties with the truth and oversold their position”

In regard to the Predators:

“In an absolute worst case scenario, its just exactly the same as the deal we had when we went into this and the club isn’t going anywhere.”

“Boots and Warren didn’t have any obligation to put any more money in the team. In fact we gave them a special deal that we would never ask them to put more money into the team”

On the Radulov issue:

“David Poile and I have a little side deal going. I take care of the situation out on the west coast and he takes care of the situation over in Russia.”

“I think we will all stand back and let the NHL handle this one. This is obviously a much bigger issue than the Nashville Predators, and I think we’ll all be pleased with how it plays out.”

On the team’s future in Nashville (attendance issues, etc):

“Honestly, we just don’t think about it in terms of ‘we have to do this or else’. We’ve made this commitment, and as crazy as it sounds sometimes in life you just do things and you don’t think about the down side or listen to the negative. Sure, I guess there is a scenario where if no one ever showed up for a hockey game that it wouldn’t turn out right…The same way the Titans have an unflinching belief that they’re gonna sell tickets to Titans football games, we feel the same way about Predators hockey. We feel like this franchise and the city are on the way up and its a total waste of time for me to talk about what-if scenarios…It’s important to us, but there is no doubt in our mind we’re gonna make [the attendance requirement for revenue sharing]. If for some reason we didn’t make it one year, its not the end of the world. It probably goes back to conversation of how much you have to spend on this or that, but again we think we’re headed in the right direction”

Behind the Predators closed doors?

In History/Politics, Hockey, Nashville, Sports on June 11, 2008 at 2:39 pm

[If you haven't stayed up on the lawsuits that Preds minority owner Boots Del Biaggio is going through, read here, here, and maybe some other places...]

We may be about to receive a major peek at the negotiating that went on when the Predators and the Metro Sports Council negotiated the new lease terms as well as the details and deals worked out among the ownership group.

Metro/Davidson County (specifically the Sports Authority and Jon Cooper) have been served with a subpoena for documents related to William “Boots” Del Biaggio’s new bankruptcy and lawsuit trouble.

The interesting part is that the subpoena actually calls for:

All communications, including documents transmitted, to or from William J Del Biaggio, II, any of his agents, employees, persons working on his behalf or for his benefit, or any group, partnership, or organization that includes Mr. Del Biaggio or in which he has an interest, concerning any negotiations or transactions involving the purchase or sale of the Nashville Predators or any interest therein.

Yikes. They have about a week to get all of this together.

The way that sounds to me, all documents the Sports Authority has discussing anything with the Predators will likely be involved, given that it must include any “organization or partnership” that Del Biaggio was a part of. I seriously wonder if the Preds ownership group itself will be getting a subpoena next. Might depend on what they get from the Sports Authority i guess.

I don’t think the ownership group or the city purposely did anything illegal or even shady, but i think we may be about to get a fairly unprecedented look at the negotiating process and exactly how the financial situation between all parties was setup.

I’m thinking we should stay tuned for more…

UPDATE:
The AP is reporting that Metro will “hold off” on taking “action” action against the Predators organization. Apparently Larry Thrailkill, a Brentwood based attorney (who was once President of the San Francisco 49ers) advised the Metro Sports Authority that Del Biaggio was in default of his agreement with the city. Exactly how he’s in default, and how that impacts the Predators isn’t stated in the article, though it did state the the Sports Authority has promised to let the Preds “fix the situation”, whatever that means.

This is a little surprising to me since we’ve heard multiple times from ownership and the Sports Authority that this shouldn’t affect operations since they have already cashed Del Biaggio’s check and his bankruptcy wouldn’t affect the Preds. Only thing i can think is if the contract had a clause regarding criminal activity (he is being sued and investigated for fraud at the federal level).

The article also states that Preds lead owner David Freeman told the Authority that they were as surprised as everyone else at Del Biaggio’s duplicity. (See Freeman’s full address to the Sports Authority here)

Almost as interesting, the article also notes that the Predators themselves were apparently served with a similar subpoena to the one the Sports Authority received.

Stay tuned indeed…


In related news, since i haven’t actually posted on the subject myself, i’ll chime in something that i commented in a few places: I think this is great for the team. The one concern myself and several other fans had was that Del Biaggio was just here waiting in the wings. Playing his role as a “good guy” and giving the Preds a chance, but was ready and waiting to buy out the team and move them to Kansas City, where he had a standing agreement with AEG to operate a hockey team in the Sprint Center. Or he could also have just been buying brownie points with the league to get his own expansion team later (something Jim Balsilie would be wise to learn if he wants in the owner’s club).

But now of course, we don’t have to worry about either of those possibilities (as Rob pointed out a few days ago). He isn’t taking the team to Kansas City, and Jerry Bruckheimer wants an expansion team in Las Vegas and hasn’t made any moves toward wanting to buy out any other teams. Which pretty much makes Balsillie the only shark circling in the water for the Preds, and we all know that Gary Bettman would have to resign as commish for that to happen.

Question: Boots Del Biaggio is clearly an idiot. How on earth did this guy expect to buy a hockey franchise out-right and move it to Kansas City if he’s this broke? It’s not like he would make money on the team here or there anyway. Someone this broke lying to get loans to buy something that isn’t going to make him money…?! Dude. At least lie your way into something that will make you money next time.

We’re getting our U-verse!

In Entertainment, Nashville on May 21, 2008 at 10:33 am

I don’t know yet if Christy and i will actually sign up for it, but sooner rather than later we will finally have the option of subscribing to AT&T’s U-verse.

Bredesen just signed the bill that allows for state-wide cable franchising, which basically means AT&T can skip all that tedious mucking about in hyperspace with regional franchising in every county.

So now AT&T can offer U-Verse state-wide with the (theoretical) flip of a switch. Why is that so cool? Right now they offer a package for $92 a month that includes local phone service, high-speed internet, 200 channels of digital TV including HD, and an HD DVR. Wow.

Best of all, they have a build-your-own package that lets you pick and choose the channels you want, which would probably be what we do since we only want about 15 channels and would rather the rest not even be available (too much time-suck already). Those packages start at $77 per month including TV, internet, and phone.

That i have seen, AT&T has not yet announced when they sill start offering U-verse services in Tennessee, or in what markets it will be offered first.

more good news for Predators fans

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on April 27, 2008 at 6:56 pm

First, just wanted to point out this article from the Tennessean about the Predators gearing up for off-season moves and signings. I’ll talk much more about this in my upcoming post about player/personnel, and we’ve already talked about it some on previous post (check the comments)

Important thing to note in this article is the following quote from team Chairman David Freeman:

“I will be shocked if the Nashville Predators don’t have the biggest increase in payroll — both percentage-wise and in sheer dollars — of any team in the NHL,’’ said David Freeman, who heads the team’s ownership group.

“There’s always been that chicken-and-egg question about who should go first: Should the team increase its payroll and then hope fans and sponsors follow suit? Or should the fans and sponsors put up the money, and then the team will spend the money? We are very clearly saying we’re taking the lead. We’re spending the money first.’’

Second, good news that the Preds aren’t planning on raising ticket prices very much this year at all. 1% – 8% max (depending on the seat), which is nothing compared to the 7.25% – 41.7% increases we saw last year. Yay!

Last, but not least, I wanted to post the email that was sent out from Ed Lang ( Predators President of Business Operations) to all season ticketholders. In addition to the text messages and other thank you’s that we’ve received, this not in particular was really nice to get. Not overly dramatic or “rah-rah team”, but what (to me anyway) comes across as a sincere thanks to the fans for supporting the team – and asking them to do what is needed most – spread the word. He doesn’t ask for us to buy a bigger ticket package, sponsor the team, buy merchandise, or spend more money – just get the word out to your friends.

I think the team and management was genuinely surprised at just how the fans reacted at the end of the season. When i heard Trotz interviewed on the radio a few days ago (after the end of the season), he said that he and the coaches and players really felt like next year would be exciting and that “Now we feel like we really have something to play for. We aren’t just playing for ourselves, but for all the fans and the city of Nashville”. Let’s just hope that small group of insanely passionate fans can continue to grow (again…that’s another post to come soon).

Here’s the letter:

Dear Season Ticketholder,

The 2007-08 Predators season was filled with many memories. You likely have the Sommet Center memories of last-minute game saving stops by Dan Ellis and Chris Mason or overtime goals by Martin Erat, Alexander Radulov or Shea Weber as well as the thrilling playoff wins over Detroit.

But the memories for those of us within the Predators’ organization, from ownership and staff to players and coaches were those unbelievably loud and lengthy ovations of support and encouragement to the team that began in the regular season finale and continued in the playoffs.

Those are memories we treasure and illustrate exactly why local ownership stepped up to purchase the franchise, why the players and coaches have pledged their commitment to Nashville and why we have the best fans in professional sports. We offer a heartfelt thank you for your continued support and overwhelming passion. None of what has transpired over the last 10 months would have been possible without your commitment!

As we begin building towards the 2008-09 season, we hope you will share some of your memories with family, friends and business colleagues with the hope that even more of middle Tennessee residents will join Nashville’s Team!

Thank you for a great season of support and memories!

Ed Lang
President, Business Operations
Nashville Predators

Predators Seasons Wrap-up: Owners and Management

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on April 22, 2008 at 10:50 am

This will be a series of posts about elements of the Predators organization as it stands at the end of another year. Stay tuned for more posts about the coaches, players, fans, etc.


As i explained to a co-worker today, this is series of blog post i was hoping to put off writing for a while longer. He was talking in very positive terms about the “great fight that the Preds gave the Wings”. While that is true, and it is awesome that this team even made it to the playoffs, it is still disappointing to have the year come to an end. I think many of us (the fans and players) really believed this team had more in it.

I’m not going to get to rear-view focused here. This last season was a crazy one, not to mention the off-season that proceeded it. I’m going to try to keep this about ‘where we go from here’. The exception is the first section, which by its nature will necessitate looking back at all the changes that have taken place, in order to appreciate the changes left to make.


Ownership/Management
Christopher Cigarran, Thomas Cigarran, Joel and Holly Dobberpuhl, William “Boots” Del Biaggio, David Freeman, Herbert Fritch, DeWitt Thompson V, John Thompson and Warren Woo

This group has been awesome. Not just the fact that they stepped up to buy the team and keep it in town (and buy us free drinks). But the other efforts as well. Marketing has improved dramatically. Advertising still leaves a little to be desired (the billboard and TV ads look like were pasted onto a PowerPoint template) but the frequency and visibility of ads has been much better. And the over-all way the team is presented around town has been outstanding.

Most of all though, they have once again made the Predators a ticket to have in town. In the final weeks of the season, we saw Governor Phil Bredesen, Jeff Fisher, Vince Young, Rob Bironas, Eddie George, Jimmy Fallon, Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Dierks Bentley, Jodee Messina, and many other celebrities have been seen at the game – on the megatron. Some of these may have been just naturally attending the game, but i can pretty much guarantee you that ‘their people’ were asked if it was ok to show them on screen. What’s better, every single one of them (with the exception of Fisher) was wearing Predators gear. This isn’t by accident. It’s marketing and promotion at its finest. Vince Young and Rob Bironas even participated in on-ice intermission entertainment. Tie-ins with the Titans is brilliant. I just hope they can continue with some quid-pro-quo next year and get some Predators featured at a Titans game or two!

It hasn’t stopped there. The Predators website has been great of late. Predators fans complaining about a lack of media coverage just haven’t found the Predators TV section yet. The local TV stations may not be covering the team well, but they team is! Toward the end of the year the team filmed a pre-game ‘show’ of around five minutes each featuring highlights and back story about the teams, what has been going on, etc (see the show from game 6 here). They also usually posted the full press conference videos and player interviews done both pre- and post-game. Oh, and of course more highlights than you could shake a stick at. The only failure here has been in not getting the word out about just how awesome this section of the site has become.

Check out the 30 minute post-season press conference with GM David Poile and head Coach Barry Trotz here–

The team even started (finally) using their SMS text message service that everyone had signed up for (when they sent “PREDS” to 66937 during intermission to win tickets). I’ve gotten several messages in the last few weeks notifying me when game 6 tickets went on sale, and about the viewing party held for game 5, Predators Pride day, etc. I hope they continue to use this to good effect (though not enough to cross the line into spam). Best message of all was the one that thanked me for my support. This new ownership group has taken nothing for granted, thanking people and companies all over the place for their support – and it is making a difference.

Other positive call-outs: The return of major sponsors (Taco Bell, Jack in the Box, Dodge, Toyota, etc, etc) bringing in extra revenue. Nice looking tickets for season ticketholders during the playoffs. Instead of a nice booklet of tickets for the regular season this year, Craig Leipold send out ticketmaster tickets for everyone. For the playoffs they returned to the nice tickets with photos of players, etc (even if they were old pictures of past players).

What i still want to see:

More HD. I know this group doesn’t have total control over games appearing in HD on Fox Sports, but the fact that none of the playoff games were available in HD in Nashville is an absolute travesty. HD has a bigger impact on hockey than any other sport – actually making it watchable for casual fans (who can now actually see the puck and more of the ice).

More Any games on local TV. They also need to get every game on TV, and more available on broadcast TV. There is no reason the occasional weekend afternoon game in Feb/March/April shouldn’t be on MyTV 30 or better yet Channel 2, 4, or 5. I know the ratings aren’t great for Predators games (yet), but they have to be better than re-runs or infomercials. I don’t care how cheap the team has to sell the rights for, they MUST get on TV more, and in a higher profile (more widely available) location.

Better ads. Both billboards and TV ad series that were run at the end of the season were well placed, and not horrible, but they didn’t look big-league. They looked very amateur. Maybe it was on purpose, but i think the team would do well to appear more professional. Hopefully having the summer to put together a new plan will help.

Preds season comes to a close

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports, Videos on April 20, 2008 at 7:25 pm

Many many words will be written about this team and this series. I’ll chime in with a few of my own shortly, but first, i think this video says a ton all by itself.

This is the final 4.8 seconds of the Predators season on the ice, followed by the fans thanking the team for the crazy ride this season turned out to be. Then the team returning the favor, saying ‘thank you’ to a city that rallied behind the them.

This team never gave up, just like their fans who refused to give them up to outsiders who called us ‘unworthy’. Many said this team wasn’t capable of finishing above 10th in the conference, and many of the same people said this city couldn’t and wouldn’t support a hockey team. We proved them all wrong.

Thank you Predators!
See you back at prospect and training camps this summer :-)

Predators Lease Changes Pass Council

In History/Politics, Hockey, Nashville, Sports on April 15, 2008 at 7:56 pm

Unless i’m wrong, this is finally “it”.

The Preds lease changes finally passed Metro Council
.

The ownership has changed hands, lease changes negotiated & passed all governing bodies, and attendance marks met.

Now we can focus 100% on hockey!

(For the record, I’m not thrilled about the lease changes. I don’t think they are really to the great benefit of the fans or the city, and only slightly to the team…but they are what the owners say they needed…and it keeps the team here. So that’s that.)

Predators make the Playoffs!!!

In Hockey, Nashville, Pictures, Sports, Videos on April 3, 2008 at 10:13 pm

I’ll try to blog about it more tomorrow.

Right now i’ve got to try to come down off this adrenaline rush and get some sleep.

Preds won. Vancouver Lost. We’re in the playoffs!

Lots of pictures here (courtesy of my lovely bride, who took all the shots at tonight’s game), including pictures of Titan’s quarterback Vince Young, who was at the game and threw out t-shirts to the crowd.

And a video she shot of the amazing spontaneous crowd response is here:

Nashville Thanks the Predators

(If the video isn’t working, that’s because it’s still converting on Vimeo’s server…check back a little while…)

The crowd rose to give the team a standing ovation during a TV timeout after a great effort in the 3rd period. And they wouldn’t stop. For a solid 2:30, the crowd just stood and cheered and waived their t-shirts* (think about it…just sit in your chair and do nothing for 2:30. That’s a long time). The arena crew was smart enough not to interrupt with any videos or music. Just let the crowd thank the team. It was amazing. The game wasn’t even over at that point. Gave me the chills.

Detroit vs. Nashville will start sometime next week.
Let’s go Preds!

* By the way, the t-shirts look great and are way cooler shirts than past giveaway shirts

Predators lease goes before Metro Council

In East Nashville, Hockey, Nashville, Sports on March 19, 2008 at 8:02 am

Now that the Predators’ lease has passed the Sports Authority, it will now go before the metro council.

I have already expressed some of my concerns about this lease from both a fan and citizen perspective in the past, and i intend to do so again soon, but in the mean time, i wanted to make sure you all knew how easy it was to let your councilman know how you feel: http://www.nashville.gov/council/feedback.html

This is what i just wrote in to our councilman, Erik Cole…

Mr Cole,

First, thanks for being a great councilman. I really appreciate everything you’ve done for us in east Nashville.

I just wanted to let you know that I strongly support the passage of the Predators new lease agreement. I know it is far from a perfect deal. Even as a Preds fan, I am disappointed in the length that it locks the team here. But the fact is that the city, arena, downtown, and all will do much better with the team here than not, and these lease terms are a good short-term patch. This will give the team under new ownership time to get on their feet and make things happen the way they should have under the previous ownership.

If the Preds are still heavily reliant on large subsidies in 5 years, and attendance has not gone up, then they can leave, and though it would make me sad, I wouldn’t fight it. However, I believe this shorter term “last chance” is one worth giving the team and the city.

Thanks,

Paul Nicholson

Here’s hoping that their 5 year plan works.

Sports Authority Approves New Predators Lease

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on March 18, 2008 at 1:19 pm

NashvillePost.com is reporting it right now. Of course it is a pay only article, and i don’t have a subscription, so i have no more details than a headline right now…

UPDATE: The sports section of the Tennessean doesn’t have anything, but deep on the metro news section there is an article that talks about “Metro will always pay $3.8mil in arena loss” and mentions in passing that “Sports Authority members voted 7-1 to approve the lease agreement. The dissenting voter, Steve North, said he thought the new lease might leave the city paying for more than it expects.”

Next move from here is for the new lease to be approved by the Metro Council. No idea on the time frame for that one.

UPDATE 2: According to a random article by the Canadian Press, the new lease will go before the Metro Council on April 1st. Just hope that isn’t a joke. ;-)

UPDATE 3: The City Paper finally posts an article! Confirms the passage and the April 1st date for Metro Council. A few other comments, but not real details beyond what we had already heard about the lease changes outside of specifying the penalty amounts the team has to pay if it wants to leave after 3, 4, or 5+ years: “$20 million for 2010, $25 for 2011 and then drops to $10 million for any year thereafter” (more on that later…).

I’ll make another big Preds update soon…

Bad news for the Predators’ future

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on February 14, 2008 at 9:25 am

Unfortunately, things aren’t looking great for the Preds attendance numbers.

I can honestly say i’m surprised at the turnout. I know the economy has been on a bit of a slow-down, but i really thought that we would average better attendance, especially after the rally this summer.

Through 28 games, the Preds have averaged 12,756 in paid attendance. The Detroit game last Tues isn’t included in that, and it was close to a sell-out, but didn’t quite hit from what i heard. The last sell-out we did have, was in fact the Phoenix game which had 15,160 in paid attendance (meaning 1,953 tickets were comped).

If my numbers are right (and this is something better suited to Forechecker), the Preds need to average 13,830 for the remaining games in order to hit the league minimum 13,125 needed to receive the desperately needed revenue sharing. That is slightly more than what we’ve averaged over the four games between Jan 31st-Feb 7th (13,467) that included the Phoenix sell-out, but it is possible.

In order to reach the 14,000 required to keep the force the Predators to stay in town under the current (old) lease with the city, the team would have to average 16,820 in paid attendance, which let’s face it, at this point is not going to happen.

Maybe my math is wrong.
Maybe some miracle will happen.

This is particularly disappointing for me because the new ownership is really doing a great job starting to do the things that i think it will take to get the public really interested in games again. They are getting celebrities to the games and showing them on the megatron (including Jeff Fisher – the first time i have ever seen a Titans player or coach at a Preds game in years).

Earlier this year, the previous owner i keep hearing so much love for (Leipold) stripped the team of salary, but also completely cut all marketing and advertising budget. The team also lost all sponsorships with the Johnson family products (Fantastik, Scrubbing Bubbles, Windex, etc) that were mainstays in the arena, as well as the Taco Bell and several other headline sponsors. It has taken months for the new ownership to turn that around, finally getting Taco Bell back in the fold, and bringing on a number of other major sponsors for in-arena spots. All of that makes the team more profitable, which of course is needed for long-term stability.

So where does this leave us…

Early this year, i was hating on the new lease deal with the city. I suspected that it was a sneaky way for the new owners to make a good show, then move the team out after just 5 years. I was convinced that the old deal, which would keep the team here for 15 years if attendance numbers were hit was the better offer. I was convinced that the attendance numbers would be hit this year. I hate to say it looks like i was wrong. The attendance numbers haven’t been there, for whatever reason. I just hope that i was also wrong about the new owners intentions. I hope that they really do want to make things work here, not just let the team gracefully fade, then move them. Because in about 2-3 months, it looks like they will be able move the team if they want to.

Of course, one thing could save all of this… a long playoff run with sold-out games. :-)
Go Preds!

ghia featured in The Rage

In Christy, East Nashville, Family, Nashville on February 7, 2008 at 1:37 pm

Christy and her business, ghia, had a great writeup in All The Rage here in Nashville today.

Local Spotlight: Christy Nicholson (ghia)

Everyone go check it out!

not-so-secret ballot

In East Nashville, Funny, History/Politics, Me, Nashville on February 5, 2008 at 11:45 am

I vote at Stratford High School in East Nashville. A politically active area, and one with a polling place that is very efficient. I have rarely had to wait more than 3-4 minutes to vote, but the area usually has a pretty good turnout.

However, the last three times i’ve voted, i have also had the pleasure of watching those before me cast their votes. It gives you that tight community feeling you understand…

You see, they setup the voting booths in the front lobby of the school, in front of the mirror-backed trophy cases. That’s right – they setup the secret ballot voting booths right in front of a WALL OF MIRRORS! They have a blue tape line marking where you can’t walk any closer to give people privacy while they vote. Problem is that i can actually see what they are doing better by standing back than if i was standing closer!

I’ve diagrammed (pardon the quick/sloppy artwork) the setup below:

I could see clearly what the guy was doing in the far left booth (as face the booths waiting in line). The fact that the booths were at an angle just made it that much easier to see.

When i mentioned it to the officials, they went over to the one person who i couldn’t see (in the far right booth) and interrupted him in the middle of voting and asked him to stand a little closer – like he was doing something wrong!

All it would take is draping some butcher paper, posters, or sheets over the trophy cases. I’ve mentioned it every time i voted in the last three elections and nothing has been done.

I finally just looked up the contact info for the election commission – they don’t have EMAIL!?! So, i just spend 15 minutes on hold on their general call in number (the pre-recorded message at the beginning wanted to make sure i knew they would be closed on Jan 21st for the MLK holiday). Finally i spoke with a general worker who was very polite and transferred me to Ms. Joan A Nixon’s voice mail. I was assured that she would return my call. Her email is listed on the commission’s website, so if i don’t hear back from her soon i’ll probably drop her an email.

I will update this space if they do ever contact me back or anything comes of this.

Predators Center Ice Viewing Party!

In East Nashville, Hockey, Nashville, Sports on January 6, 2008 at 8:27 pm

UPDATE: My original post here mentioned that the next party was March 12th. That was me making a dumb typo when being charged by the minute for internet access while on a cruise. The party is/was on Jan 12th. The next party will be on Jan 29th for the game against the Boston Bruins – fitting since the owner of the bar (Matt) is from Boston and runs a Boston-style seafood place right down the hill from Beyond the Edge.


Heads up to all Preds fans out there that our good friend Josef, manager of Beyond the Edge has not only purchased the Center Ice package for his bar, but has arrange a sponsorship deal with Bud Light for Preds viewing parties.

They will have the game on multiple HDTV’s around the bar area (including one massive 60″ beast) and will be giving away Predators hats, t-Shirts, etc at drawings during intermission. Sometimes they have practice jersey’s and other high-end swag too. Best of all -TICKETS! That’s right, they give away a pair of tickets at every party. How sweet is that?!

The next party will be Jan 12th an 6:00pm for the game against the hated Columbus Blue Jackets. The game is not on Fox Sports South or Versus, so if you want to watch this important divisional game, you have precious few choices in Nashville – why not try to win some Preds swag and tickets!

While you’re there, i highly recommend the burgers or the Philly Cheese Steak…and the chocolate dessert. Killer food that doesn’t belong in a sports bar.

For more info an directions to the bar, check out www.beyondtheedge.net

new air pollution law… maybe

In History/Politics, Nashville on December 10, 2007 at 12:13 pm

According to the Nashville Post, we have a change to air pollution laws about to hit at the start of the new year that is explained thusly:

Places certain restrictions on open burning of wood waste within 200 feet of an unoccupied building by person other than the occupant of the building.

You wanna run that by me again? I can’t burn wood near an unoccupied building unless i am the person who occupies the building? I know we pay our legislators too much… but… wow.

Of course, it could be a typo on the part of the Nashville Post. The PDF they link to which is supposed to be the actual law summary, talks about the state taking over federal programs when the feds budget comes up short. So i think it’s just screwed up. Sounded funny to me though.

Free beer! (and sodas)

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on December 9, 2007 at 12:17 am


New Preds owner David Freeman just walked through section 303, shook everyone’s hand, thanked them for supporting the team, and passed out coupons for free beer or soda. This guy knows what he’s doing. Not sure if Craig Leipold is gonna join us up here for the game again or not. There is definately a buzz in the arena. First official game with the new owners.

ok…here it goes

In History/Politics, Hockey, Nashville, Sports on December 6, 2007 at 8:55 am

This is something i’ve thought about for a long time, but never posted, mostly out of fear of a ‘sensitive’ issue. Very few people do talk about it. But Kukla’s Korner just linked to someone else talking about it, so i figured i’d chime in:

I have often wondered about the lack of minority players playing at least a partial role in hockey not being as quickly adopted in the southern (particularly south-east) US. When i go to games in Nashville, the vast majority of fans in the stands are all white. Like 98.5%. Meanwhile Titans games and other sports in town draw just about equally from the black and white communities. In cities where there is a large minority population (in some cases they are the vast majority, in fact) it makes an “all-white” sport a tough draw, economics aside. I wish it didn’t, but i think it does. I’ve often wondered if the Preds would start drawing better if they traded for Ray Emery, Anson Carter, or maybe even Mike Grier (i’d love to have Jarome Iginla, but i don’t think that’s going to happen).

Outside of just the local team draw, i think the lack of diversity impacts the overall appeal nationwide. Many sports right now are heavily promoted/influenced/marketed with “black culture”.

A friend of mine (who is black) told me he just got season tickets for the Preds. He was amazed. He’d never seen hockey live before and has absolutely fallen in love. He said he grew up watching nothing but football and basketball. He’d just never been exposed to it. I don’t think that much is unique to him being black, just growing up in Nashville. But what i think is more unique is that, for those little kids who are 9 or 10 growing up…they look for role models. People they can relate to but want to emulate. Right now, as much as he may enjoy watching a game, there aren’t a whole lot players for a 9-year old black kid growing up in Nashville or Atlanta to relate to.

I’m not saying hockey is doing it on purpose. I’m not saying that hockey can’t succeed as it is now. But i really think that hockey would have a huge boost, especially in the southern US, if they could increase the minority presence. Many teams (the Preds included) are starting to run hockey programs for kids that can’t afford it. The more accessible they can make it, the better. How might things look different if someone like Lebron James had decided he wanted to be the next Wayne Gretzky, not the next Michael Jordan.

Ok. There. I said it.
Let the flame wars begin…

NHL BoG Approves Preds Sale and New Schedule

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on November 29, 2007 at 7:13 pm

Looks like Nashville hockey fans have two things to be happy about.
104.5 is reporting (that TSN is reporting) that the NHL Board of Governors has approved the sale of the Predators to the “local” group. Despite my recent criticisms, i strongly believe this is a very good thing, particularly in light of the recent comments about a push for promotion off the ice byt he about-to-be-owners.

The BoG have apparently also approved a new schedule format that will mean 6 games against each divisional opponent (3 home, 3 away), 4 against each conference foes (2/2), 1 game against opposite conference teams (could be home, could be away), plus a few random games against other opponents. The wild card games i particularly like. As i understand it, it gives the opportunity for out-of-division and out-of-conference rivals (like Colorado and Detroit) to play just a little more often if they want.

And after 2 periods the Preds are up 3-2 and JP Dumont (on my fantasy roster) has 1 goal and 2 assists. The Preds won 6-5 in a crazy shootout. Wow. Best of all, between JP Dumont and Martin Erat i got 2 goals, 5 assists, +2, 9 shots, and 2 short handed points for my fantasy team this week. Thanks boys! :-)

Finally! ..or not

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on November 14, 2007 at 10:44 am

It looks like our long national municipal nightmare frustration is over.

UPDATE: It isn’t. I’m leaving the rest of this post up, but though the city has put forth it’s “final” offer, the local ownership group hasn’t signed off on it. So, no press conference…return to your holding pattern.

This is really getting old.

The Preds and the City are announcing a deal this afternoon. Thanks to the Nashville Post, we have the agreement in hand already.

I still have huge reservations about this deal as it is laid out in this document. The Preds can leave after just 3 years if they lose $20mil during that time ($6.6mil a year) and attendance is under 14,000 per game (the statement doesn’t specify if that is 14,000 average over all three years, or if they average under 14,000 for any time during those 3 years…or just during the last year). There is also a stipulation that the city will be paid back all of the many concessions and incentives they are paying the team if the team does leave.

So if you want to keep the Preds here past 3 years, it still comes down to attendance. Normally i would say that with this new, energized ownership group (and hopefully firing Steve Violetta) hitting attendance marks will be easy. But my faith that this ownership group is really going to be a knight in shining armor and be much better than Leipold are starting to waiver. It really won’t take much to get attendance up. I just overheard more co-workers talking and one mentioned the Preds game tomorrow night – the other responded with “they’re playing again, didn’t their season just end. I’ll have to go to a game”. Much work to do, but so much of it is so easy. We’ll see if the ownership group chooses to invest in those simple efforts, or let the team languish…

The most troubling element of this to me is that it takes a 30 year lease (with 20 years left on it) that would keep the team here as long as they hit 14,000 attendance at least once every 3 years and turns it into a lease that allows them to leave after 5 years – regardless of attendance – and allows them to leave after (theoretically) only one year of under 14,000 attendance.

Had any owner stepped up and supported the team with any marketing campaign, the team would have to stay. They could lose money and be on the salary floor every year, but they would have to stay as long as tickets were bough. Under the new agreement, they can leave after only 5 more years, potentially after 3.

(Conspiracy theories in 3…2…1…) I’m begining to wonder if the new “ownership” group didn’t get in over their heads, get taken over by outside interest, who then worked a deal with politicians on the inside to make it look like they were saving the team, and in reality are moving it after 5 years (roughly the amount of time it will take to get an NHL caliber arena built in any city that doesn’t have one…like…Hamilton, Ontario). Man i hope i’m wrong. I really really do.

I’m just glad the team on the ice has things turned around. This could turn out to be a very good year.

Predators Deal Done?

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on November 7, 2007 at 12:44 pm

The Hockey News is reporting that the deal between the new ownership group and the city is a done deal, just waiting for sign-offs from all the councils and authorities needed.

Why am i not jumping for joy?
While the new agreement supposedly says the Preds will get the funds from the city, and upgrades to the arena that they wanted, they only have to stay in town for the next three years. They do have to stay for the next three years, no matter what, but after that, not even attendance can keep them in town.

Right now this sounds like a horrible deal. As optimistic as i am, i think the Predators are at best still 5-8 years away from real profitability. Which means in 3 years the new owners can just up and run, and nothing can stop them…if this report is correct. This is a very short, very spotty article that i don’t completely trust. So we’ll see…

UPDATE: The Tennessean is reporting that the Mayor’s office has denied any deal as being “done” – they are still working. Hopefully that’s a good thing.

fan frustration

In Blog Stuff, Hockey, Nashville, Sports, Videos on October 30, 2007 at 9:06 pm

Preds lose another tough one. Put 40 shots on net, you expect more than one to go in. but from what I saw (the later two periods) the Flames did a good job of limiting the Preds real quality scoring chances. In the 3rd we finally had some spark, but it wasn’t enough to compensate for a horrible 2nd period that was full of turnovers and shots from the point with no rebound.

The rough part of this is that a lot of Preds fans, unable to watch the game, will probably be coming down hard on Chris Mason when they see the box score. I hope Pete and Terry were singing his praises because the defense left him out to dry. Repeatedly. The final two goals in particular were 100% Greg deVries’ fault. They were both breakaways to begin with, and deVries just escorted the Calgary players down the slot, not playing the shooter or the pass. Just skating through, looking confused, and letting passes go between his legs. Mason never had a prayer on either goal. The Calgary TV crew kept talking about how great Mason was playing all night, and repeatedly compared the Predators to Calgary’s experience last year – a hard working team that deserved to win more games, but were being stoned by a hot goalie.

I just hope we can get things along on the right track soon.

In less specific hockey news from around the world…

Here’s what the game looked like for me last night:


I was once again watching online. Can’t see the players numbers, much less the puck most of the time. But at least I could roughly see what was going on. Better than Pete and Terry’s “simulcast” stuff. The site i get my feeds from has just been redone, so here’s the new link for NHL feeds.

Also, I just got added to the blog roll for the 2 Man Advantage. A really funny blog/show put out by a couple of hardcore hockey fans up in New York. Fun stuff. These guys are crazy hockey nuts (especially for NY teams, but they aren’t real bad “homers”). Very funny videos. ESPN and Fox Sports Net had better be watching these guys, because they are putting out better content than most pro hockey shows i’ve seen lately. If you’ve never seen them, i advise you check this out as a good example. They are funny, irreverent, but have somehow managed to get interviews with NHL players, gotten into camps, and done interviews with former NHL GM’s. The longer they go, the bigger their rep will grow and i have a feeling they could well have a special segment during someone’s coverage of the playoffs/finals this year. Well, if someone decent covered the games anyway.

Lastly, All hockey fans need to go check this guy out right now. He has somehow managed to figure out a way (and amass the money) to see all 30 NHL teams play a home game in 30 days. 30 Nights, 30 cities, 30 teams, 30 games. Wow. He’s just a few games in so far. He’s coming to Nashville on Thanksgiving night to see the Preds play Detroit (remarkably, the only time he will see the Preds play during the whole 30 days). Of course, he has a blog going to cover the trip. I also love that he’s from Orlando.

Lastly, there’s apparently some news about a potential new financier from Canada coming in to help out the “local” group trying to buy the Preds (which is looking less and less local). Interesting. At this point, i just hope the drama ends soon. Heck, i’d take Balsillie owning the team at this point if it just meant the uncertainty would be over and the team could get itself together on the ice. I really think the off-ice elements are effecting the on-ice product. Trotz’s job, trades, waiver moves, call-ups…with us at the salary-floor it really limits what Poile can do and what the options are for the on-ice product. Not to mention the absolutely horrendous lack of marketing (waaay worse than it usually was, and that’s saying something) is killing attendance. The only thing filling the building even to the 12-15k we’ve been seeing is word-of-mouth and 104.5 FM’s efforts to keep promoting the team. It really won’t take much to give this team a major shot in the arm (on and off the ice), if only the ownership deal can get settled.

ghia at the farmer’s market

In Christy, Nashville on October 20, 2007 at 8:42 am


ghia at the farmer’s market

ghia and many other local craft vendors are setup at the farmer’s market today until 4:00pm.

Vote Preds

In History/Politics, Hockey, Nashville, Sports on October 16, 2007 at 10:19 am

What he said. And he said.

Go vote on WMSV’s poll asking if the Preds should stay or not.

Not that this poll matters a hill of beans, but it’s easy to do. Why not. Go vote.

You’re kidding, right?

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on October 12, 2007 at 12:48 pm

It isn’t April Fools. The site isn’t The Onion.

But this has got to be a joke:

The Research In Motion co-CEO is the owner of a group that has approached the NHL team with an offer to buy it if the deal with the current bidders fails.

According to a letter sent to Nashville’s Metro Sports Authority, Balsillie is now committed to keeping the team in Nashville and winning a Stanley Cup there.

The letter also states that Balsillie’s understanding of the Nashville market earlier this year was “incorrect.”

The Nashville Post has a story about it too.

They say:

The Research In Motion chairman made a proposal that wouldn’t change the Sommet Center’s lease terms for the benefit of the team. In fact, he offered to substantially increase the penalty for terminating the license agreement.

And later, quotes an article from Balsillie’s new Nashville-based spokesman for the issue:

He is now committed to Nashville as a viable hockey market, one in which he strongly desires to own a franchise; and that he will commit the resources that are necessary to lead to a Stanley Cup for the Predators and Nashville. He is also keenly aware of the recent outpouring of support of the Predators by the community, and our concrete expressions that hockey and the Predators are important to Nashville. Along these lines, Jim has assured me that he would welcome, but not require, local partners as a part of the ownership team

Now, don’t get me wrong. I said way back when Balsillie first made the offer and hadn’t shown what most would call his “true colors” (by being a jerk and starting to sell tickets for the team in Hamilton, Ontario), i was bullish on the idea of a guy who was this passionate about hockey and had pockets this deep. He will be a great owner for whatever team he ends up with eventually. I would like that to be my team. I just want it to be in Nashville.

At this point, he’d have to forgo the “out” clause in the lease with the city entirely and lock himself with no options before anyone in Nashville would believe that he has suddenly “seen the light”. Nashville would have to tread very very carefully here. Make sure Balsillie can’t just yank the team. But if they can…

I still think beyond having an owner with passion and deep pockets, the Preds would still do well by cashing in on Del Biaggio’s connections to AEG and forming ties with the group to manage the arena. It would mean more events and more profitability for the franchise/arena/city.

Most of all, i just wish people would quit jerking us around. I am fully convinced that the low attendance to date is largely due to the ownership mess being up in the air. Get that settled and fans will get behind this team (win or lose). Apparently Balsillie sees that now… maybe.

The other thing worth mentioning here, is that the local group is still the only one that can negotiate with current owner Craig Leipold. This new communication has actually been made to the city, as Leipold can’t talk with anyone else until the end of October. Shrewed way of getting the message out there without going around the contract. I think Balsillie may be learning after all.

UPDATE:
The Predators just released this statement: “We are committed to completing the sale of the Nashville Predators to David Freeman and his investor group.”


On a slightly different, but related note:

When we were at the Dallas Stars game the other week, we sat in front of two guys from Toronto. This isn’t the first time we’ve sat near guys from Toronto, down to watch a game. They loved it, and just like everyone else from up north that has come to see the Preds play, were in awe at the fans chants, support, yelling, and generally making things fun. Apparently they just sit on their hands and watch the game in Toronto (until they start yelling for the goalie’s job in the pre-season). Anyway – turns out these guys happen to be NHL refs, down to do a few games. It was a unique experience to say the least. I also got to talk to them about the injury = match penalty issue. They said the league felt 9and apparently they agreed) that most NHL refs had been around long enough to know when a guy was faking an injury. I still don’t buy it.

Good times.

the other part of the show

In Entertainment, Hockey, Nashville, Pictures, Sports on October 5, 2007 at 10:59 am

(Sorry for the long post, especially about something this trivial. But hey, it’s me)

In addition to being a big hockey fan, i am a media/marketing/entertainment geek. I also have a painful attention to detail sometimes (I say this not as a boast, but…well…”it’s a blessing and a curse”). Combine these two and…well…I study things like the videos and entertainment packages at the Preds games waaaay more closely than they are intended to be studied. Oh well. I am what i am.

Anyway, here’s what I noticed last night.

Quick mention: Lots of really cool new graphics that we didn’t see during the pre-season. New filler animations, Power Play animations, Goal animations, “Preds Win” animations, and “Thanks for Attending” animations. Also new “Kiss Cam” graphics, though these seem pretty plain. I’m guessing those will be tweaked in the near future.

There were also a few changes around the arena. The column at the attack twice end that used to be painted like a giant can of Edge shaving cream is now painted with the Signature Tower on it (the soon-to-be mega-sky-scraper that is planned for Church Street downtown). The Signature Tower also sponsored the t-shirts we were given last night. The interesting thing is that not only has the Signature Tower not been built yet, but it is years away and may not even happen. They are having trouble selling the last set of apartments needed to secure financing, etc. But apparently they are going to be huge sponsors of the Preds this year, which is great (for both i think). They are enough of a sponsor that the new opening video now features the as-yet unbuilt tower, but i’ll get to that in a second.

First, there’s a nice new opening video (that I tried to record and goofed for some reason and didn’t catch…I’ll see if I can get it on Sat) with all the players and cool highlights. Very nice video, very well done. Really hypes the crowd.

That then transitioned into the new Intro video (which i did record and will upload soon). It’s basically the same as previous years…hockey players representing other teams land on the frozen Cumberland River (they now arrive in meteor format, not skating down the river, and they don’t beat up the General Jackson) and a Big Cat/Predator (is that considered Gnash?) comes into downtown and beats them up, then climbs up to the top of a building and roars. Only now it climbs the Bellsouth/AT&T/Batman building (like it used to), and from there it jumps up to the Signature Tower and climbs it (picture on the right). Kinda cool really. Funny thing is, they don’t have the new Bass Berry and Sims building visible in the shots around downtown, even though it is actually being built right now and is quite close to the arena (picture on the left, above). You also can’t see the Signature Tower in the background of the long shots of downtown (picture on the left, below). Only in the close-up final shot when the Predator is climbing it. I am sure while the organization is putting things together they may think of some of these things but think “nah, no one will notice that, it’s just on the screen for half a second”. Sorry guys.

There was also a new concession stand on the lower level I had never seen before, and they are apparently remodeling some of the concession stands on the lower and upper levels. I’m interested to see what’s going in there (they better get them finished soon!). I was surprised that they weren’t finished for opening night.

All in all the new arena experience is great. The franchise is very much moving in the right direction.

Oh yeah – and the Predators played AWESOME.
Mason was great. Defense played well. I could really tell the experience of our youngsters combined with the new veterans meant much more responsible, positional hockey. Very few times did the Avalanche get any really strong scoring chances and those were mostly in the 1st period. The power play clicked on the first go, though later attempts didn’t look too strong. As my wife called it, the “power play kill”. Lots of work to do there, but if we get anything close to that effort on a consistent basis (which I think is more likely again, due to the young players having yet another year under their belts and the new vets) we’ll be just fine this year.

Smoking Ban NOT Going Into Effect

In East Nashville, History/Politics, Nashville on October 1, 2007 at 8:06 am

So while i was at Laura Creekmore’s birthday party at Beyond the Edge last night, i went over to talk Predators hockey with the manager, Joseph (I also thanked him for providing the great appetizers and other goodness for the party). While we were talking, i brought up the smoking ban and said i looked forward to being able to come to the new smoke-free version of Beyond the Edge.

He said they weren’t going smoke free.
I asked if that meant they were going 21-and-up. He said no.

I was confused.

He said that he’s seen stuff in the paper, but no one from the city, state, or any other group has sent them any notifications or dropped by to notify them of the change in the law. He said he and the other managers from East Nashville bars (i assume he means 3 Crow Bar, Red Door East, 5-Spot and Lipstick Lounge) are going to keep allowing people to smoke and will not ask anyone to leave until they have been notified by officials of the change.

Now, i’m all for smoke-free. I love the idea of being able to go to Beyond the Edge and watch a game and not have to keep the clothes i wear in the garage until i wash them. But this combined with the cities recent renaming of streets downtown without actually telling everyone has me wondering who’s failing miserably at their jobs. Small businesses should be notified about any changes in codes or laws that apply to them once they have received their permits, etc.

Hopefully Mayor Dean’s administration will be a little more prompt about reporting such things.

Predators Marketing

In East Nashville, Hockey, Nashville, Pictures, Sports on September 29, 2007 at 9:03 am

Caught this on the phone pole at 5-Points in East Nashville. Sign reads “IF YOU LIVE IT THEY WILL STAY. 10/4/07 IT BEGINS”. And it lists www.nashvillepredators.com, www.savethepredators.com, and www.ourteamnashville.com

I’m not sure if this is official from the Predators or not. If it is – wow, amazing, awesome, and it’s about dang time.

Unfortunately i’m pretty sure this is an unauthorized fan creation. Either way, great to see.

LAN Port

In Nashville, Pictures on September 29, 2007 at 8:58 am


Yes, some cities are rolling out municipal wifi. Nashville is rolling out municipal wired-based broadband. At the base of every telephone pole there will be a RJ-45 LAN port.

OK, ok… I Couldn’t resist painting out the “D”. It is actually a sign for the bus station downtown.

Location Location Location

In East Nashville, Funny, Nashville on September 25, 2007 at 7:07 am

My wife and i like Publix. Much more than Kroger. It reminds me of the old H.E.B. grocery stores in Texas. Bigger, cleaner, higher quality food (especially produce). A little pricier, but not too bad.

Everyday, we drive under this sign at Woodland and I-24 downtown:
It has changed several times over the last couple of years, but has almost always had some variation on the “High Quality, Short Drive” theme.

Here’s the problem. The nearest Publix to this sign is over 9 miles away, and a good 10-15 minute drive.
The blue icon is the billboard. The yellow bags are the Publix locations.

My wife has actually driven all the way out to one of these locations just to get in a visit. Just pray there isn’t bad traffic or the milk will go bad.

“Short drive”….right.

Beautification Power

In East Nashville, Nashville, Pictures on September 22, 2007 at 7:28 pm

One of our councilman over here in East Nashville is working on passing an ordinance that will help clean-up Gallatin Rd. I’m all for the concept of making it look nicer. Though i am a little libertarian to love the idea of limiting the types of businesses that can be along the road (with no schools, etc anywhere near by), i personally don’t love them so i guess i can live with it. Besides limiting the types of businesses that can be along the road, they also want to restrict the placement of parking lots (they can only be at the rear of the property now, with vehicle access from side roads, etc). That one makes less sense to me…but ok, whatever. Lastly, they want to restrict signs. They can only be attached to buildings or low-lying on the ground – small, unobtrusive, etc. Fine. I’m all for a little height restriction, but overall sign clutter doesn’t really seem to bad.

Here’s the deal people. You want to make Gallatin Rd look nicer (and the rest of Nashville while you’re at it)…

Get rid of the above-ground power lines.

They are ugly, messy, way more ‘cluttered’ looking than any signs. Not to mention they make for a trashy power system. Above-ground power lines are full of electrical noise and are more prone to outages than lines that are all above ground. Not to mention the health problems associated with above-ground power. Bury them like any modern city. I’ll have less wear-and-tear on my electronics, have to buy fewer power filtering adapters, and not have to put a UPS on everything i own because the power goes out when it gets windy outside. Most of all, it will just plain look nicer.

The Australians are burying their lines. There are studies and papers being written on the advantages all the time. Besides the fact that nobody wants above-ground power.

Here’s a little fun i had with photoshop for comparison.

Which do you think looks better? Lower signs, or no power lines?

But oh yeah – here’s the trick. One cost the city money, the other cost private business owners money. Guess which one we’re gonna get…

Nobody Likes Nashville

In Entertainment, Nashville on September 15, 2007 at 8:13 pm

I’d never even heard of it, but apparently Fox’s new semi-reality-ish-drama Nashville was a total flop last night. It failed to beat out stiff competition like re-runs of Americas Funniest Home Videos in its time slot, and dropped half of its lead-in audience (behind Are You Smarter Than A 5th-Grader) right off. By the half-way point, it has lost another 15% of the poor souls that started watching it.

Now, as someone who is sooooo tired of defending Nashville as a pretty awesome place to hockey ‘fans’ who keep saying we don’t ‘deserve’… I want Nashville to look good and get press on a bigger stage. But from watching about 45 seconds of the clips they put on the website for the show, i think this show getting canceled will be a good thing all around. Even the discussion groups on the official site (with headlines on the front page read: “Not a good show for Nashville” and “Real real real bad-yuck”.

Yikes.

Aussie Rules

In Nashville, Pictures, Sports, Videos on August 25, 2007 at 5:54 pm

Got to watch a bit of the Nashville Kangaroos take on the Louisville Kings game this afternoon. Much fun.

It was pretty hot, but i managed to hide under some of Elmington Park’s nice shade trees for most of the game, so it wasn’t too bad. I used to watch Aussie Rules on Fox Sports World years ago. I was hooked. So much so that when FSW stopped airing games and i was desperate for a fix, i actually downloaded the demo version of EA Sports Aussie Rules game, AFL 99. I couldn’t get the controls right, so i just set players to zero and watched it play itself. Repeatedly. Yes, i am a loser.

It is a really cool game though. I always describe it to people as the closest thing in the world to real Calvinball. The ball and field are both oval/oblong. You have to dribble the ball on the ground every 15 meters as you run, you can only get the ball to your teammates through an underhanded punch (like vollyball) or kicking it. You score by kicking through tall uprights at the far end of the field. The umpires throw the ball in the air like a basketball jump-ball, except they throw it about 30-40 feet in the air. It is pretty much chaos.

By now i have to admit i have forgotten many of the specific rules, and things were a little hard to follow. Probably would have been better if i could have heard the announcer they had on a PA system calling the game – but he was on the other side where there was no shade. But today was mostly about going out a supporting the teams a bit…and of course for the photo opp. Nice sunny day + violent sport + no face masks = really cool shots. At least i think so.

For those of you who have never actually seen a game, i shot video of one quick segment. Normally there is more time in between a starting toss and a goal, but thankfully it made for a good, quick demo. And it was pretty indicative of how dominant Nashville was in the game.


Next ‘Roos home game is Sept 8th against the Milwaukee Bombers. According to the website, they have never beaten Milwaukee in 4 tries, so the game should at least be more interesting than this blowout. And the weather should be cooler.

For the record, the Kangaroos club also has an associated Netball team (sort of Australian version of basketball). My friend Matt and his wife played on that team for a while just for fun. We got to see them a while back at one of Nashville’s Australian Festivals. Don’t know if they still play or not.


Oh, and for those keeping track at home, i uploaded this video to Vimeo. Going to start switching over. It looks like video on Flickr may be a while in coming, if ever. One nice thing about Vimeo – you can download the original source video if you want to see a higher quality version of anything. Much better than Google Video or YouTube.

Last random note on that topic: Google just closed down its Google Video store and is supposed to be getting out of the video business somewhat. Blogger just added ‘upload video’ to the editor where you can not just embed video stored somewhere else, but now upload videos straight to Blogger (like it has always done for photos). Google owns Blogger. Explain that one to me.

3+6=11 for the Predators

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on August 24, 2007 at 12:06 pm

One of my business law professors in college used to complain about coverage of business law in the media. Business law, he would say, is far more complicated than fits in an easy to read 2-inch column in the paper. It certainly doesn’t fit in sound bytes. The burden of proof and reasons for prosecution would frequently get distorted.

He summed this up (pardon the pun) by using the analogy of a mathematician telling you that 3+6+4-2=11. But the media doesn’t want to take the time to explain all of that, so he just puts 3+6=11 in the article. Both 3 and 6 were part of the equation, but it is a fallacy to believe that that was all that was involved.

That little story came to mind when Chris Wage over at Metroblogging pointed out this article in the Nashville Post regarding the potential buying group Predators efforts to renegotiate the lease terms with the city.

Great article. Highly advise reading it, if you can make it through. Basically this is complicated. It is money, budgets, politicians, taxes…all that fun stuff.

To me (as a Preds fan of course) it boils down to the group asking Metro for help in making this work, with the promise of taking on more of the risk themselves. They ask Metro to pay more up front, but give up most if not all of the risk. Fixed cost for Metro, more incentive for the ownership group to make the Sommet Center and the Predators profitable.

Sounds like a good situation to me.


In other Predators related blogging news: Christy has a funny post up about her bad luck with Fantasy Hockey last year.

You’re kidding, right?

In Entertainment, Nashville on August 23, 2007 at 7:25 am

I honestly thought this was a joke when i first saw it.

A company is trying to start a “Netflix for books“. Um…isn’t that the library? I get that for free, thanks.

They honestly are trying to charge people $19.99 a month to have 3 books out at a time. Books just aren’t that expensive these days. I could buy 90% of the books i want for well under $10…so i could just buy 3 books a month for close to that.

Besides, that’s what the library is for! They don’t delivery to your mailbox, and i could see people who live out in the sticks needing it…but if you live in a city this is just silly. Just go to your library, fill out a card, and pick up the book.

The Nashville Library system even lets you search online, find the book you want, request it be sent to your nearest branch, and they hold it for you. Just walk up to the desk, grab the book, go home. No searching through rows of Dewey Decimal chaos. Easy. Done.

Now, i know some of you (i would be one of them) will tell me the library has movies too, so why Netflix. Easy: The library’s movie selection is minimal, most of it is on VHS, and there are few copies of most movies. Now, the library is one of the reasons my wife and i only have the $8.99 Netflix plan. We occasionally still get stuff from the library (for instance, right now we are listening through the unabridged Harry Potter books), so the two work in tandem.

I really hope this new service doesn’t hurt a library system that is already having to be trimmed back. But i think most book worms (in major metro areas) are going to be smart enough not to use the service. Hopefully.

Update: There are apparently at least a few companies that offer this kind of service. This one has cheaper plans, which seem slightly more reasonable for books.

new scoreboard update

In Cool Tech, Nashville, Sports on August 21, 2007 at 4:08 pm

I don’t know why i’m so excited about the new scoreboard for the Sommet Center, but i really am. I think once it goes up, there will be people who go to games just to check it out. It is just a few days from completion!

This isn’t just going to benefit the Predators either. Every even held there (concerts, Kats games, conventions, revivals, etc) will all be able to take advantage of this and the new state-of-the-art video production system being installed in the control rooms along with it.

Here’s a picture of the one in Chicago. Ours will be basically the same, but with a few extra panels on the corners.

Here’s a picture of ours so far. Here’s the official article, and the slide show with more pictures.

predator profitability

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on August 10, 2007 at 7:28 am

This article in the Winnipeg Free Press is asking the question that i think a lot of people around the sports (and business) world have been asking themselves: Why would anyone buy hockey teams that have been losing serious amounts of money. The Predators reportedly lost $15mil last year, and a total of $70mil over the past 10 years. The previous owner of the Lightning reportedly lost “more than $70mil” over the 7 years he owned the team. The teams first owner reportedly lost $20mil in one year (1998-1999).

So why would anyone, especially less-than-billionaire groups of owners, buy these teams? It’s a fair question.

I can’t speak to the case of the Lightning, but for the Predators the answer is that the NHL franchise was not the only thing changing hands. There was also Powers Management.

Powers Management is the separate company that manages and runs the Sommet Center. Every concert, revival, rally, and gathering that happens there. Every major artist tour that uses the state-of-the-art practice facility. Everything that goes on in that building – Powers Management gets to keep the profits. Better yet, thanks to the agreement with the city, Powers Management is guaranteed not to lose money. The city of Nashville has to subsidize any losses. Though Metro sees none of the direct profits, it does see benefits in tax revenue and other peripheral economic impact. There have been a few years where Metro has had to pay, but i believe on the whole, Powers has been running a positive balance sheet.

So while the Predators can honestly be losing money year after year, the overall business of running the team and being the anchor tenant of the Sommet Center is still quite profitable i am sure.

Note: Normally i would have this post chock full of links to references backing up my statements. There are articles too numerous to mention that talk about the teams losing money – but amazingly few places online that reference the deal that Powers Mgmt has with the city, and fewer still that give any details about Powers Mgmt itself. In fact, there was a lawsuit by the Tennessean last year against Powers Mgmt for them to open their books as a public entity. The courts agreed that though Powers Mgmt was a private company, they operated a city-built and owned arena and therefore functioned in a public capacity.

predators sale analysis

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on August 2, 2007 at 9:41 am

Great article by Daniel Tolensky just got posted on Hockey Buzz.

Very honest assessment of ‘Boots’ Del Biaggio’s role in the purchase (which it turns out may be as much as 40%, making him the largest owner).

If you are a Predators fan, or just someone interested in business in Nashville, it is worth the read.

Predators-Locals letter of intent signed

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on August 1, 2007 at 1:06 pm

Not just a letter of intent – it is a Binding Agreement. They have layed down $10mil in cash money. This is it (barring something really weird).

The letter of intent has been signed. Business man “Boots” Del Biaggio has stepped forward as a major part of the ownership group, but it is majority owned part by a local group of 7 investors. Major local investors include David Freeman, CEO of 36 Venture Capital LLC, and Herb Fritch, CEO of HealthSpring Inc.

The anticipated closing date for the transaction is no later than September 30, 2007.

Again – “Boots” is only a minority owner. Apparently most of the budget/team decisions will be made by a group of the 5 big share-holders. I assume more details to come on that. Supposedly there are no circumstances (under the current agreement) that would see “Boots” become a majority owner.

Sale price: $193mil.
Less than Ballsillie was going for, but more than “Boots” was offering by himself.
Apparently “less than 25%” of the deal is debt, which is supposed to be good for a sports team sale these days…

I am getting to listen to the press conference live (thanks to the firewall at work going on the fritz again). Everyone is very clearly talking about the team staying in Nashville in the mid/long-term. No word on any changes in the lease with the city yet, or very specific details on how the

Craig Leipold also just said that he is planning on turning around and buying season tickets (since he assumes he’s losing his owner’s suite [much laughter in the room]), and is thrilled that the team is staying in Nashville.


Article is up on NashvillePredators.com, includes full audio of the press conference.


New lead-owner is David Freeman. He is acting as the spokesman for the ownership group, etc. I would assume he is the largest shareholder. He’s not much of a spokesperson. They are interviewing him on the radio right now…he’s not a very good speaker. At least right now.


Confirmed: Del Biaggio will have to divest himself of his share of the Sharks. No word on what happens with his agreement with the arena in Kansas City to eventually operate a club there.

predators sale to locals is pending

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on August 1, 2007 at 8:36 am

This was reported several places yesterday (PredJoe really broke the story), but i want to get in on the fun too.

Paul McCann just posted that a press conference is about to be announced…looks like it’s here!
(Sounds like a press conference at 2:30pm…that’s the buzz anyway)

The Predators will be being sold to the local group (who will obviously do everything to keep the team in town) with the addition of some mysterious outside investor. Maybe “Boots”. Maybe Todd Wagner. Very interesting.


In other Predators news, i like the topic of this article in today’s Tennessean.

When the Preds signed Gelinas, that got us to the salary cap floor. But there is at least one more trade to make – since we have 24 players on contract that should be at the NHL level, it means we will likely see a trade of some kind. Since we have to stay above the floor, we can’t give up any salary, which means we can’t just trade a player for draft picks.

We have to lose a player, but not lose salary. So…trade two-for-one. Trade two players and get one (better) replacement. Could be great. I’m not going to begin to speculate who that would be (yet).

Of course, another option exists if any of those 24 players are on a two-way contract. Even if they have to clear waivers, Poile has to try to hold on to the talent he has. Especially since there is no way everyone stays healthy this year (especially with Sullivan’s back), we’ll need those extra players to be key.

This is also a good time to point out that as much as i love Darcy Hordichuck, he doesn’t make sense on the ice. I’d get rid of him easy in place for someone else. He is still here purely for the fans…or to step in if/when Tootoo gets suspended again.

The article also points out that training camp should be very interesting this year given the pressure for roster spots. We saw a few fights last year, i wouldn’t be surprised to see a few of the same this year. Those scrimmages started to look like games when the 4th-liners and prospects were on the ice. This is gonna be fun.

chris mason for vice-mayor

In History/Politics, Hockey, Nashville, Sports on July 31, 2007 at 4:31 pm

Someone just commented on this flickr photo of mine, that they just voted for Chris Mason for vice-mayor of the city as a write-in.

I don’t think Chris is even eligible, being Canadian and all, but it sounds like a good idea to me. I get to show my general distaste for the current political landscape and the offerings i have to choose from, but still cast my vote – all while supporting the Predators!

This wouldn’t be the first time, mind you. Me and a few friends of voted for a co-worker as a write-in during the last election. I don’t even remember what office it was for.

video from predators rally

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports, Videos on July 20, 2007 at 8:04 am

[Check here for the latest Predators news]
[For more pictures of Eklund, look here]

I’m swamped catching up with things at work, but wanted to post the video i put together from last night’s rally.

If the video isn’t working, try this link.

In short:

  • Rally was fun, but not amazing (a little too short)
  • Turnout was great (though my inner fan-boy hoped for more)
  • Results were fantastic – tickets sold!
  • The Predators are staying
  • It felt really good to be back in the arena
  • I can’t wait for the new jumbotron…i was really disappointed it wasn’t installed yet.

More thoughts later…

Predators Rally Recap

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on July 19, 2007 at 6:35 pm

Amazing. 700+ full season tickets*. Over 7000 people in attendance.
This team is staying.

Now the challenge is to sell even more seats so that the team can really be profitable and have the budget needed to put together a team that can win a cup.

104.5 had some of the leaders of the local ownership group on while i was driving home from the rally, and they said their goal would be to reinvest any overage or profits into the team. They weren’t looking at this as a money making venture (understatement of the year), but wanted the team to be successful and wanted the team to stay in Nashville so it could maintain its level of national and international respect.

Right now i am furiously trying to edit video. That will really show you what this was like.
Tons and tons of pictures coming soon.
If you want to browse through the raw stack, they are uploading to Flickr right now.

Oh – and i just made a comment on Eklund’s post thanking him for coming out, then linking to pictures of him at the event. The post was deleted and my posting rights on the site were suspended for 6 hours. This guy is serious about not wanting to be seen – or he is serious about not wanting people to post on his blog fishing for hits…which i understand. I guess. I just think it was funny.

This is a picture of him to the right.

No question, this was the picture of the night though:

As the governor later said…he may live to regret that picture :-)

Great photos of the event by Chris Wage too.

My full breakdown and recap tomorrow.

(* the equivalent of 700 full season ticket packages. Made up of full and partial packages)

predators ticket sales update

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on July 19, 2007 at 10:59 am

For those looking for updates on the ticket sales, check Paul McCann’s blog.
He’s there all day, on the radio off and on.

I’m stuck in a training class at work otherwise i’d be posting my own updates.

So far, 202 new full season ticket equivalents (read: lots of full packages, but lots and lots of half and quarter packages).

It’s looking really good!

FYI: For anyone interested – I’ll have pictures going up live throughout on my Flickr stream.

predators license plate

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on July 18, 2007 at 5:07 pm

Just in time for the Rally tomorrow – the Predators License Plate is here…well…90% here.
Just fill out this form, send it in with a $35 check, wait for 999 other people to do the same, then we get our plates! They will be accepting deposits at the Rally tomorrow as well.
This is what the plate should look like (taken from the PDF form online)
Pretty different from the other sports plates, and not much like what i predicted. But i like it.

rally is tomorrow – be there!

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on July 18, 2007 at 2:43 pm

Some great posts around the web about the Predators Rally tomorrow.

Seriously – all you bloggers out there that love “live blogging” and you photographers (i’m looking at you Wage) need to show up. This is going to be big. You don’t want to miss it. My wife will probably be there off and on all day photographing the festivities.

For the Rally itself, we will be sitting with the rest of Cell Block 303 in section 103 if you want to come meet us. We’ll be one of about 8,000 people wearing our jerseys. Mine doesn’t have a name on it.

Misc Notes:
Hockey blogging celebrity Eklund just made a long, impassioned, very impressive post about why Nashville is a great hockey city, and explained why he is flying down to support the Rally (scroll down a bit to read the main part about Nashville).

Predators P.A. announcer and hockey-radio personality Paul McCann has made a few posts as well.

This event is going to be great.

Even if you aren’t a Predators fan – especially if you aren’t a Predators fan – this is a great time to come down to the arena for free – get inside, and see what this is all about.

It has been confirmed that players Ryan Suter, Chris Mason, Vern Fiddler, and Scott Nichol (at least) will be in attendance, that the new uniforms will be debuted, and that the ice pack and rival packs will be announced. No word on whether or not the new multi-million dollar high-def jumbotron has been installed yet. (It is supposed to go in sometime “this summer”).

To make things even better, it is looking more and more like tomorrow will be a party to welcome (if unofficially at that point) our new local ownership. The local ownership team met with Leipold and NHL officials today in New York and apparently the meeting went well.

104.5 The Zone will be broadcasting all day live from the Sommet Center.

Here’s their broadcast schedule of the day (from Paul McCann):
6am-10am – The Wake Up Zone with Frank Wycheck, Kevin Ingram, and Mark Howard. Predators player guests will be on

10am-2pm – Nashville Predators Insiders hosted by Willy Daunic and Pete Weber, and Paul McCann…possibly Eklund…?

Box Lunches will be available for only $5 from 11am – 1:30pm

2pm-6pm – The Sports Zone
George Plaster and Darren McFarland with Mike Coyne, Rick Regen, Butch Spyridon, and Ralph Shulz

6pm-7pm – THE RALLY
The Rally will be held on the floor of The Sommet Center… wear your Predator finest and prepare to get crazy!

7pm-9pm – The Sports Zone with George Plaster, Willy Daunic, and Darren McFarland


While we’re back on the topic of hockey, On The Forecheck has some interesting thoughts about what the addition of teams in Kansas City and Las Vegas would mean to re-aligning the league. Includes pretty pictures.

Update: The Predators just agreed to terms with Vern Fiddler, the last player on last years roster not accounted for through resigning, trade, or signing with someone else. This still leaves the Preds $1.5 million+ left to spend to get the salary floor. We’re gonna be a very good team for one with that low a payroll.

jeremy roenick a predator?

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on July 16, 2007 at 2:45 pm

Now this is an interesting theory.

This morning James Mirtle posted that former Blackhawk/Flyer/King/Coyote, Jeremy Roenick, may not be retiring after all. Then this afternoon, hockey blogger extraordinare, Eklund, posted his updated list of unrestricted free agents and included Roenick on that list, and listed Nashville as a possible destination (the only player on the list with Nashville as a destination).

For those that don’t know, Roenick is something of a controversial player. Not exactly a dirty player, but a whiner and a talker. Mostly a talker. Picture an NBA player drafted out of high-school but in a 37 year old hockey players very worn out body. On the ice he is nothing compared to what he once was, which wasn’t a whole lot to begin with.

So, would Roenick signing with the Predators be something that fans want?

I think yes.

This may sound strange, from a fan that normally is all for the well behaved, mature, quiet teams. But think about it from this point of view: Nashville needs not only a successful team, but 1) vocal leadership 2) a face to the franchise 3) coverage from local and national media.

Roenick brings all of these, but especially #3. The scene at the right is where he would be most useful. Having him on the team guarantees sound-bytes worthy of Sportscenter and the local news. If nothing else, i think it would make for an interesting season. The only possible down side would be if he became too negative on Nashville, but considering how long he’s played in Phoenix, Nashville is Toronto by comparison.

Maybe that’s where we spend our extra cap money…

He could also come in, alienate fans, and kill any sense of team-unity the Predators have.

I’m glad i’m not the GM.


In related news (and yet another reminder):
The great Eklund himself will be coming to Nashville on Thursday for the Rally. Even more reason to be there! We gotta show him that Nashville fans will show up!

predators news

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on July 10, 2007 at 7:21 pm

It’s been a whole three days since i last posted about the Predators, and there actually has been some news today, so here’s a big huge update:

City Paper had a great article* today about how he thinks we will actually be pretty good this year and that we could surprise people “the most talented team does not always win the Stanley Cup”. Of course he’s the coach, he has to say that. But i agree. We certainly have a better team than our first playoff year when we barely made it in. And that team actually won two games in the first round before getting knocked out, as opposed to just one game the last two years. With Arnott being one of our main guys up front, and trading Hartnell and Timonen for Bonk and de Vires, we are a much bigger team overall. I will be really curious to see if we keep going after more size with other free agents or prospect call-ups. Though after seeing him in camp last year, don’t hold your breath for 6’7″ Yonkman to be in the lineup regularly.

Speaking of camp…
Here’s the schedule so far (finally announced today!!!)
Training Camp starts Sept 13th
     with testing and physicals at the Sommet Center
First open, on-ice session will be Sept 14th
     at Centennial Sportsplex (as usual)

The Preseason was also announced today. Looks like an all South East schedule for us, which is kinda fun. I really wish we were in a division with all these teams. Would really help build the sport in the south i think (all the SEC’ers would be more likely to get into it). But the NHL is so eastern heavy that Nashville, Columbus, and Detroit are all in the Western Conference. How nuts is that. Anyway – i’m hoping to go visit some friends in Atlanta for the pre-season game there, but we’ll have to see since its a “school” night.

NASHVILLE PREDATORS 2007 PRESEASON SCHEDULE
Day Date Opponent Site Time (CDT)
Sunday Sept. 16 Columbus Blue Jackets Nationwide Arena 4:00 PM
Thursday Sept. 20 Atlanta Thrashers Sommet Center 7:00 PM
Friday Sept. 21 Carolina Hurricanes RBC Center 6:00 PM
Saturday Sept. 22 Carolina Hurricanes Sommet Center 7:00 PM
Tuesday Sept. 25 Atlanta Thrashers Philips Arena 6:00 PM
Saturday Sept. 29 Columbus Blue Jackets Sommet Center 7:00 PM

I also just got the latest email update from Section 303.
Lots of “Save the Predators” events going on. I’m just going to do a cut and paste for ya here…

1) IF YOU DON’T HAVE ANY, GET SOME SEASON TIX..OR ADD-ON!
http://www.seats3d.com/nhl/nashville_predators

2) COME TO THE BIG “SAVE THE PREDATORS” RALLY ON THUR. JULY 19.
Sponsored by 104.5 “The Zone” and OurTeamNashville.com, this event at the Sommet Center (the new name for the Nashville Arena) will be an all-day affair from 6 AM to 8 PM, but they want to pack the arena out at 6:00 PM. There will be tons of media coverage for this so we want to see the joint rockin’!

The event will be inside to avoid any problems with inclement weather. Folks will be able to roam around the arena to look at season ticket locations. Current Predators players will be on hand to answer phones and help sell tix.

More info:
http://www.1045thezone.com/?pid=6506

If you would like to volunteer to help at the rally, go to:
http://www.ourteamnashville.com
Phone: 615-259-4754

3) SAVE THE PREDATORS BENEFIT CONCERT
(was tonight at the Rutledge)

4) BUY A NASHVILLE LOVE HOCKEY WRISTBAND
Price is $5.00 and 70% of the money goes to buying tickets for worthy groups. For more info go to:
http://www.nashvilleloveshockey.com

5) ZANIES SHOW 7/25 TO SAVE THE PREDS
Featuring Patti Vasquez
Wed. July 25 at 7:30 (doors open at 6:00–seating first come, fist served)
Tickets are $16.00
100% of proceeds go to SavethePredators.com
Call 615-269-0221 to reserve seats

6) SIGN THE PETITION TO SAVE THE PREDATORS
http://www.petitiononline.com/19972007/petition.html

7) FILL OUT THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE SURVEY ABOUT THE PREDATORS
http://www.nashvillechamber.com/predators/

Like i said, the concert for SaveThePredators.com was tonight. We didn’t go, but Christy and i did order shirts from the site to support the effort. They aren’t anything special and i don’t know if i’ll ever where it in public (i have about 6 Predators shirts that are cooler and i have to wear collared shirts to work now), but it’s nice enough. Anyway…interesting thing is that the City Paper announced the concert. Had a little write-up next to the main Predators article.


And for those still trying to keep track of the off-ice Predators news, On The Forecheck just posted that the Nashville Post is reporting that Jim Balsillie is apparently out of the running for purchasing the Predators. It is now just down to “Boots” (the Kansas City guy) and the local offer. I like the idea proposed that they may combine. Of course, there is also always the possibility that Leipold will decide to work with the local group to do what he asked for way back in the spring – partial ownership from locals. No one took that talk seriously back then, and now suddenly this group has to play catch-up. How different might this have all looked if a few of these local businessmen had just stepped up with a few million back then?

I wonder if one person can own a minority stake in two NHL clubs at the same time? I’m not sure why “Boots” would want to trade a small share of the Sharks for a share of the Predators. I mean, i love the Preds, but the Sharks are a stronger team financially than we are right now.


* Of course, i would love to link to the Preds article in the City Paper, or the write-up on the concert tonight – but noooo. The City Paper’s new online version (as cool as that is) keeps me from linking to it. I like that i can now see the pictures (the old site had no pics) but how the heck am i supposed to bring them extra readers if i can’t link to their articles?!

balsillie out?

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on June 28, 2007 at 6:35 am

At this point i am skeptical and i don’t have time to read every single report, but i have awakened to many new articles this morning saying that Leipold has nixed the Balsillie deal, but is instead selling to William “Boots” DelBiaggio who will take the team to Kansas City (if we don’t sell enough tickets).

My initial thoughts:
First, i’m glad to have Balsillie out. As much as he is a hockey guy and will be a fun owner some day, he has also proved himself to be an inconsiderate jerk. Balsillie wanted/wants a team in Canada badly, but most of all i think he wanted to be a hockey owner. If the Preds sell enough tickets this year, i think he would be satisfied staying in Nashville, just happy to be an owner. DelBiaggio on the other hand is not really a hockey guy (though he is a partial owner of a minor league team).

Interestingly, DelBiaggio just said last week that he was not interested in going after the Predators since this “was Jim’s deal”. Apparently either 1) he was lying through his teeth and just upped his offer or 2) Leipold knows that the Balsillie deal and move to Hamilton was not going to be approved by the league, which i think is more likely.

This isn’t much better for Predators fans, except that our new potential owner has shown more discretion than Balsillie, at least to this point. however, DelBiaggio just wants to take a team to Kansas City. If he succeeds, Kansas City will be even worse than Nashville in terms of number of pro teams per capita, unless you don’t count the Royals, which is certainly an argument to be made. Either way the league will be moving in to another NFL dominated market, only this time the NFL team is long established, instead of starting out 2 years behind the NHL team like they did in Nashville.

Can hockey succeed in Kansas City? Well, they tried it once and it didn’t work, but that was a long time ago. I think it could succeed, but the NHL shouldn’t think that it will be any easier there than in Nashville. And now they will be starting all over.

Oh, and of course all the local papers just have news about the local investors still trying to get another big name for their bid for the team. Maybe all this is why i couldn’t sleep last night.

Update:
Leipold’s official response to all of this:
“We are currently free to explore any and all options regarding the sale of the Nashville Predators. However, until and unless there is a binding agreement in place, we do not plan to comment on the status of Predators ownership. We will not comment on rumors and speculation.”

In other Predators news:
Paul McCann has a post up about the top prospects at came that started yesterday.
And the Tennessean is reporting that newly-crowned starting goalie Chris Mason just bought season tickets in an effort to save the team in Nashville.

ahead of schedule

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on June 25, 2007 at 7:13 am

The Tennessean is reporting that the Predators are well ahead of their normal pace when it comes to season ticket sales. Renewals are about the same as this time last year, with 67% of the previous season’s STH renewing so far (those figures climb as the season gets closer). The really great news is the new season ticket sales. The Predators have already sold the equivalent of 1,000 new season tickets (through a mixture of full and partial packages). Last year at this time the team had sold 750 new season ticket packages.

This is HUGE! There are several other initiatives still just getting started, and two ticket selling events planned that haven’t even happened yet – the concert on the 10th, and the all-day ticket-thon and rally that 104.5 is doing at the Sommet center (and on-air for 13 straight hours) on the 19th. I also have to say i love how these groups are raising money to buy tickets that will then be donated to charity groups in town.

The best thing about all of this is that even without those events we’re already ahead of last year, when we only fell 185 tickets short of the magic 14,000 number. If the rallies and ticket-thon that 104.5 is planning have any level of success, then things are looking very good indeed for keeping the Predators here.

Of course, the other major benefit of all of this, is that with all of these high-visbility campaigns and large numbers of the public showing up for events, local businesses are getting a chance to see that the Predators have rabid fans and that sponsoring and advertising with the team (aside from buying tickets for themselves) make business sense, which will help the team be more profitable and viable in the future – whoever owns the team.


Predators prospect conditioning camp opens tomorrow! It runs June 26th – July 2nd. All of our new draft picks and several other prospects are expected to be in attendance. They will be held at the Centennial Sportsplex, but no word on what if any times they will be having workouts that are open to the public.

Also no work on when training camp will be yet. I’m saving up a vacation day or two ;-)

not alone in our fight

In Blog Stuff, Friends, Hockey, Me, Nashville, Sports on June 24, 2007 at 9:08 pm

I just received a fabulous note from Jim Henshaw (Canadian TV writer/actor/etc). In short, it was his response to the pending sale of the Predators and the mess surrounding it – and he ties in lessons he learned when he had a chance to hear Fred Rogers (as in “Mister Rogers”) speak years ago. As a huge fan of Mister Rogers, this really hit home for me.

His note really made my day, and his piece on the Predators gave me hope. With the chaos that has been happening lately, i was really starting to get fatigued defending my fandom and my city. And though i keep telling all my friends ‘we have a chance’ and ‘we control our own destiny’, in my heart i was beginning to get discouraged. This piece reminded me that, while reality is still what it is and we have an uphill battle, i can at least rest knowing that not everyone outside of Nashville is against us. Thanks Jim.

His writing is superb (surprise), if a little long. So from here, with his permission, i’ll just let Jim do the talking:

Paul,
I finally posted my thoughts on Jim Balsillie. It’s part of a much longer post on Canadian TV, but I wanted to give you the chance to share it with Nashville fans… All my best on the fight to keep the team. Believe it or not, a lot of Canadians are with you.


HOW RICH BOYS BREAK THEIR TOYS

A cold snap hit New Orleans on the opening day of The 1997 NATPE Convention. Within hours, the trendy men’s wear store across from the Convention Center had sold out its entire stock of overcoats, sweaters and gloves as the California contingent snapped up anything they could find to fend off the bitter chill.

Inside the cavernous meeting halls, attendance was slim for the early morning panels and lectures, as attendees opted to breakfast in the comfort of their hotels before venturing to the icy banks of the Mississippi. Television luminaries from franchise showrunners to network heads found handfuls instead of hoards awaiting the insights and information they had come to deliver.

All except one.

Fred Rogers took the stage at the final breakfast meeting, accepting a Lifetime Achievement Award to a standing ovation from several thousand television execs who had either grown up or watched their children grow up in his neighborhood.

Wearing his trademark sweater and sneakers, the man who once said, “I went into television because I hated it so.” was as gentle and ego-less as he had been for more than 30 years in the public eye.

But “Mr. Rogers” didn’t want to talk about making television for children or share anecdotes from his career that morning. He wanted to talk about the people in that room — and what was wrong with us.

Arriving at New Orleans airport, he’d noticed the squadrons of private planes parked on every spare patch of runway. He’d seen the long lines of limos outside and had toured the lavish sales displays of the world’s networks and studios. He wondered what any of it had to do with making good television.

As the hushed room hung on his every word, he read a poem. I don’t know whether it was something he’d penned some time before or on the spur of the moment. But it was about kids defining themselves and their status by their toys, instead of sharing the best that was inside them. It concluded with a wonderful line…”Remember your toys aren’t you — your toys are beside you.”

Two events of the last couple of weeks got me thinking about that speech. The first was the sale and subsequent dismembering of the CHUM/CITY empire. The second is the ongoing hockey soap opera as Canadian Billionaire Jim Balsillie attempts to buy and move the Nashville Predators to Hamilton.

It’s far too early to know for certain how either of these events will finally play themselves out. But in both cases, they feel like the triumph of money, power and ego over something that was special and good and more important to the future.

[Here, again with Jim's permission, i will skip over the discussion of Canadian TV mergers, etc. While it is of no small importance in its impact, even here in the US, most of you won't know the background. I encourage you to read Jim's original piece to get the full story - he has a lot of good things to say. Sufficed to say, large media companies are buying up others and programming could/may/will suffer.]

My big fear is that they’ll beat each other up acquiring US programming that comes with a more or less quantifiable return; rather than invest in programming they can actually own and fully exploit in the future.

But then Guys with money wouldn’t have money if they didn’t know what they were doing and success always breeds success, right?

Which brings me to Jim Balsillie, Billionaire owner of Research in Motion, creator of the Blackberry and aspiring NHL owner.

Jim (and I can call him Jim because we Jims are informal that way) bid on and backed away from purchasing the Pittsburgh Penguins a few months ago. Depending on which story you believe, either he or the NHL killed the deal over his plan to move the franchise to Hamilton.

Now he’s bidding $50 million more than the Nashville Predators are worth with the same plan in mind. The conventional wisdom is that his offer vastly increases both the paper value of all current NHL franchises as well as what can be charged bidders for expansion teams. Therefore, Jim’s made all the other owners a ton of money just by turning up with his wallet, so how can they say “No” to him?

His first move after over-bidding for the franchise was to tell Commissioner Gary Bettman he wasn’t moving the team and his next was to sign an arena deal in Hamilton and start selling season tickets.

This puts him in conflict with the League’s bylaws, the Commissioner, the Fans of Nashville as well as the two current franchises (Toronto and Buffalo) whose local jurisdiction intersects the city of Hamilton. In layman’s terms, this means Jim can’t move there without infringing on their existing fan bases, television penetration and God Given right to print money without interruption.

According to what passes for wisdom on Sports radio stations, this may all sound duplicitous and dumb when Jim doesn’t even own the team yet. But he’s “a real smart businessman who doesn’t make mistakes”, and “has pockets deep enough to win this fight”.

In other words, he’s the richest guy, so he should get to make the rules.

Well, for starters, Jim’s a really smart businessman who paid $450 Million to another software firm a couple of years back for patent violations in the design of the Blackberry. He dragged that suit out, because he was the big dog, when he probably had the option to settle earlier and for much less. Only when a federal court in the US began considering a ban on Blackberry service did Jim cave — and then the patent holder turned the screws a little more to maximize his own profit.

Somehow, all that doesn’t strike me as the mark of a smart businessman.

I heard a friend of Jim’s interviewed this week, relating a story that was also quite telling. By all accounts, Jim’s a real nice guy (his name’s Jim, how can he not be) but after losing a $20 bet on a golf game, he apparently was almost beside himself. The friend told him to relax, it was only $20. Jim’s heated response, “No! It’s not!”

Rich guys. Money buys deference. But it doesn’t make you something you’re not.

And if you look at the big picture, selling a team to Jim and moving it to Hamilton could be one of the worst things that could happen to the NHL.

Maybe hockey isn’t thriving in Nashville, but it’s doing better than it was 10 years ago. New fans are constantly finding the game. They may not provide the immediate gratification an owner would find in Hamilton, Winnipeg, Halifax or anywhere else in Canada. But to grow, a sport needs to cultivate new fans, not just keep preaching to the same choir.

The NHL is hoping to expand to Houston, Kansas City and Las Vegas, where producer Jerry Bruckheimer wants to place a team. None of those are hockey hotbeds. But they are large and viable markets that can further expand the fan base and make a major American television deal for the NHL more likely.

One has to wonder how much that TV deal is jeopardized if the Nashville market is lost by Jim moving the team. And one also has to wonder if expansion to the cities mentioned makes sense at the current $190 Million price tag, but much less if the price cranks up (because of Jim’s overbid) to $220 or $240 Million.

More kids are playing hockey every year in the US. This year the top picks in the Junior draft were all Americans. These kids are going to need new places to play or all that hard work, training and growth of a fan base will have been for naught.

But the Canadian fan who just wants a local rooting interest doesn’t care about those things. Hell, as a frustrated Leafs fan, I wish Jim would move the Predators to Toronto. It’s been a long time since we had a real NHL team in this city!

But here’s what money talking in this instance could mean…

Atlanta sees Hamilton do well in the hockey mad Golden Horseshoe and moves to Niagara Falls. Tampa decides to set up shop in Mississauga; both places offering access to larger markets than Winnipeg or Quebec City.

Given the rule changes Jim would have to force to make his move, neither he nor the league would be able to prevent these eventualities. And suddenly, Jim’s team isn’t making money either — and what the nets are paying for TV rights becomes as fragmented as the local market.

If you want an example of where this already exists, look at Australian Rules Football, an incredibly wild and exciting game that was born in Melbourne. Today, Melbourne is home to 9 of the AFL’s 17 teams. That’s right. Half the league is in one city. And while Melbourne has more than enough crazed fans to fill its stadiums, when half the games are only of rabid interest in one location, there’s no money in National broadcasts. So the game has never grown as it should have.

Adding another team in the Ontario TV market can only further fragment already declining audience numbers for the Leafs and the Sabres. God knows what it’ll do to Ottawa, who have been the poor cousins for 12 years in a local market already splintered by Montreal and Toronto.

So if Jim gets what his money says he should have, he may actually hurt the financial base of two Canadian teams that are currently making money and a team in Buffalo that’s on the bubble.

I can’t believe I actually agree with Gary Bettman on something! I might be required to turn in my passport.

The problem with our world is that it’s all about money, numbers and market share. Too many good things wither because people with money can’t see an immediate return.

Which brings me back to Fred Rogers…

Through the 1950′s, Mr. Rogers wasn’t very successful with his concept of using television to “nurture” those who watched it. Then in 1963, he moved to Toronto, where he had been contracted by the CBC for a 15 minute children’s program entitled “MisteRogers” (sic) in which he made his on camera debut.

The show was a hit with kids, but 3 years later, the CBC decided it knew better and that its money was better spent elsewhere, canceling the show. Fred moved back to Pittsburgh, launching the identical concept as “Mister Rogers Neighborhood”. Four decades of children later, his sweater and sneakers reside in a place of honor in the Smithsonian Institute along with the trolley, Eiffel tower, tree and castle that were created by CBC Designers.

The Guys with the Gold will always make the Rules. But money is short-sighted and rarely gives worthwhile endeavors a chance. What endures and makes a difference in life does not come from the toys. It comes from people who care about more than that.

“Remember. Your toys are not you. They are beside you.”

Great piece Jim.
Thank you so much for sharing it.

flugtag

In Funny, Nashville, Pictures on June 23, 2007 at 8:08 pm

More pictures and some comments up soon, but for now – check out my Flickr set.

be still my heart

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on June 22, 2007 at 8:15 pm

It’s been quite a night.

First things first – the picture to the right is of a fan at the NHL draft in Columbus, OH.
This man is my hero.

Now…to the rest of the night’s craziness.

Apparently while we were over at a friends watching the finale of Stargate SG-1 (more on that later) there were rumors flying around that Craig Leipold sent a note to the NHL saying he didn’t want to sell to Balsillie anymore. One person was even kind enough to comment about it on my blog (i really appreciate that!).

I can’t tell you how happy i was about this at the moment. I don’t absolutely despise Balsillie (yet at least), but the reasons that were supposedly given in the letter were that Leipold didn’t want to sell the team to Balsillie since he was so clearly not going to give the team a chance in Nashville. That means that not only was Balsillie essentially out of the picture, but that Leipold would prefer a Nashville centric-owner.

Unfortunately it turns out that reality was a little more predictable. Leipold sent a letter to the NHL, but it only said that the NHL need not pursue its background checks, and continue with paperwork on Balsillie until Balsillie enters into a binding agreement with him – which would include a deposit.

Now, my guess here is that reality lays somewhere in between.

Leipold needs money. He isn’t broke mind you, but he wants the financial albatross that is the Predators off his back (i love the team but it’s the truth). I also believe that he would like to see the Predators ultimately succeed in Nashville (though not too badly). I think he is using this to put pressure on Balsillie, but more specifically to let him know that he is not very happy with what Balsillie has been doing. Balsillie has the money. He could write a check for the full $220mil in cash right now, so it isn’t about not trusting Balsillie’s seriousness or financial standing.

I think this is Leipold’s way of putting Balsillie on notice that he is absolutely willing entertaining offers from other suitors that would be more willing to give the Predators a chance in Nashville. Or at least other suitors that won’t be jerks about moving the team. This is supported by the fact that the Nashville post is quoting someone ‘who would know’ that Leipold is willing to offer something of a “Nashville discount” to someone who would keep the team here. Possibly something in the $180mil area instead of the $220-240mil that Balsillie is reported to be offering, but that those discussions were also before Balsillie’s offer came through.

Trouble is, i’m not sure who any prospective local owner would be. Unless someone rides out of nowhere, we aren’t hearing any great news out of the camp of local businessmen trying to raise $125mil so that they can then borrow the remaining $60-100mil needed to buy the team. Honestly, if the group 1) has no significant leader and 2) doesn’t have enough money to buy the team that isn’t financially solvent, then the NHL won’t approve that sale. Whoever buys the Preds is going to have to have a minimum of $250-300mil at their disposal. It will be years before this team turns a profit – unless Leipold is lying through his teeth about recent financials for the team. Which, while i admit is a very very distinct possibility, i am still unwilling to believe is true.


On the subject of lying – one more comment about the Vokoun trade.
It makes absolute sense on the ice. Get picks and free cap space to bring in better players and move a slightly overpaid goalie to make room for an underpaid star waiting to bloom (you’ll remember that Mason finished higher than Vokoun in Vezina trophy voting this year).

What worries me, or upsets me about the trade is that just the day before, David Poile told the press that he “had no current plans to trade any of his high-salary players that were under contract for the coming season”. Again, i agree that the trade made sense, but still… I am just hoping that Poile made a careless slip of the tongue and was thinking of valuable but non-duplicate players who are under contract (read: Sullivan, Arnott, Erat, Zidlicky, Weber, Suter, Radulov, etc). I would think as long as Poile has been a GM he would know better. And that’s what makes me nervous. ESPN is also reporting (guessing) that Kariya is probably gone. I think our lack (or perceived lack) of competitiveness will hurt our chances of signing him, regardless of the salary he is offered.

Another interesting note: a few places are reporting that Vokoun had a no-trade clause. I guess he knew that he would be a solid no-contest #1 goalie in Florida, and no so here, so he waived the clause.


One last hockey related note. To all those Canadian haters who keep bashing on hockey in the US and the south, etc. Tonight for the first time ever – ever – two US born players were taken 1-2 in the amateur draft. The Predators also selected the first California native to be selected in the first round. They weren’t exactly from Brentwood, TN, but i’m just sayin’…

no buyout option for preds

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on June 19, 2007 at 5:39 pm

Well, it looks like the little Nashville Post finally caught up with itself and posted a ‘breaking’ story too fast without researching it enough. They reported what a lawyer said in a Metro Sports Authority meeting last week. Now they are saying it isn’t true after all.

Basically, the $27mil fee for “liquidating damages” is only for that – if the team declares bankruptcy or is found in default of the lease (like the city is saying they are by not having enough total “tangible net worth”). The Post was also kind enough to finally post a copy of this dreaded and complicated lease everyone has been arguing over.

Basically i fell into what Paul McCann called the chicken little syndrome.
It is looking like it will be tough to sell enough tickets to keep the Preds if the team doesn’t put a quality group on the ice – but this is far from over.

Oh – and we signed Jerred Smithson today. So…yay.

predators hit the road

In History/Politics, Hockey, Nashville, Sports on June 18, 2007 at 10:14 am

A bit of an update from a post back in Feb.

The Tennessee legislature finally got around to approving a license plate for the Nashville Predators.

Great timing guys.

They have to pre-sell 1,000 plates before they’ll actually start making them. No idea yet if they have a sample design, but i made the graphic to the right back in Feb, and it’ll probably be something like that.

My understanding is to contact your local county clerk if you want to order one. I’ll try to call this afternoon and see what it takes and how much they’ll cost (proceeds go to the Predators Foundation).

Now the question is, do i get one of these for the Rabbit, or one of the antique car plates i now qualify for…

preds exercise claws…er…clause

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on June 15, 2007 at 8:41 pm

Not that this is a surprise, but it is still significant: The Predators did exercise their “cure” clause in the lease with the city.

Of slightly bigger news is that the Predators can break their lease with the city, even if we sell 14,000 tickets. All the owner has to do is pay a $27mil fee for “damages”. Now, the NHL has said that if a lease is in place when an owner buys a team, the team cannot move for 7 years. That would presumably mean that an owner cannot break the lease themselves, but if the lease lapses on its own because of time, or in this case, attendance, that the owner is allowed to leave.

I have to wonder though (nervously) if the NHL does want Balsillie to move the Preds after all, if they wouldn’t try to call this a “buy out” instead of breaking the lease, and thus allow him to move the team.

I want the Predators to stay. I would rather Balsillie not be the owner, but i’ll take what we can. But i also do understand that 14,000 sold seats or not, the Predators are years away from being a profitable franchise in Nashville (without putting the team salaries on the floor anyway). With that said, from a business point of view the move makes sense. From a marketing point of view i don’t think it does. But then again, putting the league on the Outdoor Living Network (now the All Fight Channel, AKA Versus) instead of giving the rights away to ESPN after the lockout doesn’t make marketing sense either. Just short term financial sense.

As horrified as i am to say this, i really think that our best hope for keeping the Predators in Nashville lies in 1) Bettman’s pride and 2) the greed of the Leafs and Sabres ownership. I think that the corporate sponsors and potential owners in the area are a safety net that could catch the team if this Balsillie mess all blows up, but it isn’t a serious option on its own merits right now. If it was, they should/would have come forward last spring when Leipold asked for partial ownership from locals.


On a related but random note: discussion on Paul McCann’s latest post tonight (at 5:00pm on a Friday) was a little lighter than usual, but still rather heated. I didn’t get to read until we got home from hanging out with friends, but one person pointed out that 30 minutes after Paul posted the story, no one from Nashville had commented yet, but many from Toronto, Buffalo, Vancouver, etc had, and that this somehow demonstrated the lack of true fans in Nashville. However, someone else accurately pointed out, i think, that this only means that people in Nashville have something better to do on a Friday night in the middle of the summer.

I think that may be the Predators problem: Nashville is too great a city. Too many options and things to do. I guess that isn’t the case in some cities that are more “deserving” of hockey. Touché.

And oh yeah – by my calculations we’re about 13 weeks from the start of training camp.

(one more time, happy anniversary to us)

new preds buyer?

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on June 15, 2007 at 9:01 am

The Nashville Post continues to scoop all other media outlets in Nashville for Predators news.

They are now reporting that a group of local businessmen is putting together a bid to purchase the Predators. With this in place, it leaves Bettman open to do what he did in Pittsburgh – tell Balsillie to take a hike, and sell to the locals. With this level of local corporate/business support, you also have to think the odds of the Predators selling enough tickets to stay in town are pretty good, which may cause Balsillie to drop the bid on his own.

Huge news! Good way to start the weekend!

Update: Another good article from the Nashville Post is reporting that the legal roadblocks that the Metro Nashville government have been throwing up all of a sudden are part of why Balsillie has been moving faster to relocate, rather than just purchase the team. They go on to say that between Metro trying to say that two years isn’t two years and that players don’t count as part of the team’s value, they are creating a hostile environment that may kill the Balsillie deal and lead to Leipold moving the team on his own…or of course selling to locals (as mentioned above).

(and happy anniversary to us)

maverick owner for the predators?

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on June 14, 2007 at 6:44 am

[This article was written a while back - i am sooo glad Balsillie didn't get the team now, and it looks like a local group will be buying the team - possibly with Todd Wagner or someone from outside as an investor - check here for the latest Predators news]


You’ve heard me say several times that i think Balsillie will be a good owner because of his similarity to Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks. Cuban is stinking rich, and a fan first, owner second. He has repeatedly used his influence as an owner and bottomless pockets to go up against the league and advocate for change. As much as many people are annoyed by him, I think his influence has by far been positive, and there is no question all my friends that live in Dallas love him and say that he puts together a fantastic product.

For those that haven’t been following the news, there are tons of reports of Balsillie making everyone mad, telling Nashville that he would like the team to work here, though he has yet to actually talk to anyone from the Nashville, and has been telling the city of Hamilton, Ontario that he wants to move the team there. Most of all, he is really frustrating the league and the Board of Governors of the NHL (owners) before he’s even got the team. The trick here is that very group has to approve his purchase of the team, and then again approve the move. There is no question we’re headed for some messy legal wrangling.

So while Balsillie would possibly be a good “Cuban-esque” owner, why not wish for the real thing?

The Nashville Post (the one that broke the news of the sale in the first place) just pointed out that Mark Cuban’s business partner Todd Wagner, is buying a large plot of land in Nashville to build an estate and live here part time. Cuban grew up a rabid Penguins fan in Pittsburgh and has publicly considered buying the Dallas Stars and was rumored to be interested in buying his childhood team when the Penguins were up for sale and even said on his blog that he knew he would regret not buying a hockey team.

If Balsillie yet again ticks off the NHL ownership and doesn’t get the Predators (which i have to say i am starting to hope for), how awesome would it be to have Mark Cuban buy the team?

Craig Leipold: If you don’t sell to Balsillie, PLEASE PLEASE sell to Mark Cuban.

predators benefit concert

In History/Politics, Hockey, Nashville, Sports on June 13, 2007 at 2:25 pm

SaveThePredators.com has organized a concert to support keeping the team in town. The show will be on July 10th at the Rutledge and feature Small Time Rock Stars (who frequently perform as the house band at Predators games), Kink Ador, and others.

The part that i think is really great is how they are working this. The concert is a benefit for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Middle Tennessee – that also supports the Preds.

Here’s how it works: proceeds from the $10 ticket price will go to buy Predators tickets, which will then be donated to the Boys and Girls Clubs. So while i don’t think you could exactly use this as a direct tax write-off, it’s a genius way of supporting the Predators and the community all at the same time.

See you there!

let the shopping begin

In Christy, East Nashville, Family, Me, Nashville, Work on June 11, 2007 at 9:14 pm

I am happy to announce the opening of my wife’s online retail store:

The mission of ghia is to provide socially responsible shopping at an affordable price. Many of their products are made by independent artisans located in the Middle Tennessee area, while other products are fair trade imports from Asia.


Go check it out!

I really am very proud of her and this store. Though in my former life i was a web designer, she did this almost entirely on her own. Its a killer site from top to bottom, and she tackled the full intricacies of secure e-commerce, which i never did.

I love that her goal here really is to be socially conscious (fair trade, supportive industries, local artisans, etc) but affordable. And with lots of research and hunting, she found suppliers that let her pull it off.

I also can’t wait until more of her own designs get to be put on the site. She’s still wrestling with some printers for getting those made and on her site, but they will be coming soon.

Now seriously, everybody go buy something.

save the rally for later

In History/Politics, Hockey, Nashville, Sports on June 8, 2007 at 9:07 pm

Copied from a few posts i’ve seen around today (and heard rumor of earlier this week):

According to SaveThePredators.com there will be NO “Save The Predators” fan rally for June 16th. That’s is the weekend for the Bonaroo festival. If you see any on-line fliers, etc. just disregard them.

There IS a huge rally in the works for mid-July that 104.5 The Zone and the Chamber of Commerce (among others) are putting together.

Stay tuned.

our team nashville

In Blog Stuff, Christy, Hockey, Nashville, Sports on June 8, 2007 at 3:42 pm

Katherine’s right. I do dig it…

The new initiative rolled out (they rolled initiative…ha!) by the Nashville Chamber of Commerce to keep the Preds:


A while back Christy (my wife) and i were talking about what we could send in to Balsillie’s office and to the league office to save the Predators. We’re big fans of Stargate SG-1 and when that show was about to be canceled everyone sent in empty tissue boxes with “Please Send More” written on them (reference to the pilot episode of the TV show). Jericho fans of course just sent in a bunch of nuts.

I think BA has the right idea: we send them all catfish.
Who’s first?

avoid me for a while

In Blog Stuff, Family, Friends, Me, Nashville, Work on June 6, 2007 at 4:35 pm

Everyone may want to avoid me for a while.

Not because i’m angry or violent or anything. I just feel like i have one of those little personal rain clouds following me around.

First the whole mess with the Predators being bought and likely possibly moving.

Then i went out and did a bunch of yard work over the weekend a while back and ended up with so many bug bites of various kinds that i had to work from home (couldn’t put shoes on) and take Benadryl for 72 straight hours. Thanks to work policy, still had to take PBA time for staying at home, but couldn’t afford not to work a little. I was glad to find out that chiggers don’t actually burrow into your skin as i’ve frequently heard. But man it feels like it sometimes.

Then my company announces that they are laying off 10% of their global workforce, which is between 4,000-8,000 people depending on who’s article you read. My job is reasonably secure, but less so than when i was a normal old sales rep. The perils of promotion.

Then i start getting myself all worked up over stuff in the news and things i’m reading online. Just good old tilting at windmills kinda stuff too. Like our Political system being horribly broken. Yeah. I’m gonna fix that one alright. But of course, they aren’t the same things everyone else is upset about, so not many people join in the conversation with me. They are all too distracted with even more explosive debates that i don’t even want to get caught up in. People are just mean.

Then i find out that Brittney’s quitting NiT and who knows what is going to happen to that site now. It really is a cool site. Good sense of community. Good place for me to find other bloggers and photographers around Nashvegas. (and the link love, don’t forget the traffic and the TV time!).

And now i come home and read that Market Street Pub, a place that i didn’t exactly frequent but was a sentimental place for me, is closing. Or rather, changing over to a…chain. I shudder at the word.

Many times i’ve gone there with my dad or friends before going to a Predators game. There was just something right about going to a place like that and ordering fish and chips before going to a hockey game. It was especially fun on nights against the Red Wings because large groups of both fans would sit in various parts of the bar and start chanting at each other. Whenever anyone would enter the bar wearing a sweater (read: jersey), which of course i always was, one side would cheer wildly while the other booed. It was great.

It is really strange, but i’ve formed a lot of friendships, and had some really deep conversations there. I’ve only been there maybe…10 times. But every time was somehow loaded with something deeper. For no particular reason. So i think this is hitting me harder than some other places closing.

It was where Christy and i really started to get to know Brett and Anne, old co-workers of mine who we go to Preds games with now. I went to dinner with a friend there and we had a good heart to heart about some hard stuff the guy was going through, and never really recovered from (as far as i know) before he left his family and friends and ‘gave up’. I don’t know where he is now. It was one of the places where Jamie and i had dinner together after not seeing each other for nearly a year, renewing our friendship for the 3rd (or 4th) time.

A lot of stuff happened there for me. And i just now realized it. Strange how it matters to me so much all of a sudden.

…oh, and now i also can’t get Amy’s xanga login info to work, so i can’t post her latest entry about her trip to Moscow. (My sister is in Moscow, and i have her blog login so i can post her emails about her exploits). She did upload a lot of really cool pictures to Flickr though. Everyone go check them out! Apparently there are silly girls and cats in Moscow too. Great pictures Amy!

Anyway…i’m not really that grumpy or angry or anything. Just down.
It’s been a rough few weeks and i’m drained.

Update: Wow. It felt really good to write that post. Not that i feel a ton better, but it is amazing how cathartic that was.

Update 2: My wife and i watched Hellboy tonight for the first time (Blockbuster online lets us watch all sorts of mediocre movies we’d otherwise never see). Really strange movie, but oddly enough, i think i was in the perfect mood to watch it. Really weird, dark, and kinda…happy…i think…? Oh – and there’s an example of yet another sequel coming your way.

Goodbye Brittney

In Blog Stuff, History/Politics, Nashville on June 6, 2007 at 10:52 am

I barely knew you. I had just become part of the NiT community, and now i wonder if it will continue.

(For those that don’t know, WKRN’s professional blogger and head of Nashville is Talking, Brittney Gilbert, just resigned)

Brittney:
I wish you all the best in whatever you do. You did a good job of being yourself and not hiding your opinions, while not attempting to silence or belittle those who disagreed (well, with few exceptions). Of course there is no small amount of irony that this, your greatest strength, is what brought you down.

Now i’m wondering if NiT will continue. With the recent changes in management at WKRN (that were badly needed – i love NiT, but WKRN…isn’t…very good.) i wonder if they will see the value in hiring a blogger (hey – how much would this gig pay anyway… hum…).

On a totally selfish note, if NiT doesn’t continue, where am i going to get my links from? My visits are going to tank for a while i’m sure.

I wonder if the folks over at MetroBlogging will kinda take over as the hang out of choice for Nashville bloggers. There are a few people that frequent both (Chris Wage, Kate O, etc). I certainly hope so. My employer blocks NiT (i pull and RSS feed through Google to read, but can’t comment) but doesn’t block MetroBlogging.

wouldn’t that be a little obvious?

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on June 4, 2007 at 5:31 pm

Nevermind.
The Tennessean is back at it. Being scooped to any real story about the Predators by the lowly City Paper. The Tennessean has yet another article about fans being fearful of uncertainty due to lack of communication with our future owner. While the city paper has an article about an upcoming meeting between the Nashville Chamber of Commerce and the Predators organization.

Quote from the City Paper article:

“Time is of the essence here, it seems to me,” Chamber of Commerce president Ralph Schulz said this morning. “The Predators have got to sell their season tickets, but the degree to which we can help them position their ticket sales and create the opportunities to talk to decision makers, and so forth and so on, we really want to do.”

I’m excited about this and loving it. More evidence of the community stepping up to keep the team in place.

However, the City Paper article makes me think: why in the world is this news? Shouldn’t the Predators organization have a meeting every off season with the Chamber of Commerce of Nashville, Brentwood, Franklin, and every city as far out as Murfreesboro? Not to mention every other business organization in the area. Even if they didn’t in season 1, by the time the team started struggling to sell to businesses in, oh lets say season 3 or 4, they should have made this a common practice.

The marketing for businesses is still pathetic. The business sales website for the Preds has finally improved slightly, but one of the main features is still the pathetic 100 things to do with season tickets. Amazingly, at least two of the other teams in the league that have ticket sales problems, Chicago and New Jersey, don’t have anything at all regarding business sales on their sites.

One more random thing that is interesting to contemplate: If this old post turns out to be true and Gary Bettman is replaced with Eddie Gossage, we could have an NHL commissioner from Middle Tennessee coming in just as the Predators may be looking to relocate. Bettman supports the Preds because they are one of his babies. I wonder what Gossage would think.

Last note: The first period of game 4 between the Senators and Ducks just ended…wow! That was a frantic, awesome, physical period of hockey. Giguere played lights out for most of the period, but finally allowed one in at the last second – literally. Emery was great as well. I hope the rest of the game and series are this good. And i love hockey in high definition. You can see the puck (thanks to resolution) and see plays develop (thanks to wide screen). I’d love to see the game in 720p instead of 1080i given the speed of the game, but at this point i guess i can’t be that picky. :-)

chamber survey

In History/Politics, Hockey, Nashville, Sports on June 1, 2007 at 10:39 pm

Quick survey for the Nashville Chamber of Commerce. Took me about 1 minute and 15 seconds to take the whole thing.
www.nashvillechamber.com/predators
Go take it.

And check this out: www.savethepredators.com

the predators what?!?!

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on May 23, 2007 at 7:20 pm

This just in.

The Predators were just are being sold to Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie (the guy that owns Research in Motion – the Blackberry guys). This is the guy that tried openly to buy the Pittsburgh Penguins last year and move them to Canada.

What We “Know”:

Random Quotes…as of 11:09pm central

“It is believed as of now that the team will remain in Nashville for the forseeable future”

“a press conference has been scheduled for tomorrow to announce the sale of the team”

“The Nashville Predators will soon be sold to Canadian businessman Jim Balsillie for $220 million, media sources reported Wednesday evening.” (Leipold bought/started the team for $80 million)

“Leipold met with the NHL Board of Governors at 2 p.m. Wednesday in New York, and then told his staff of the developments.”

Gerry Helper, Preds VP of communications: “We’re not confirming or denying or issuing any kind of statement at this time”

“Leipold told the Predators’ front office personnel that the team will remain in Nashville for at least the next season, but made no promised for the future.”

Also, it is apparently official. According to Paul McCann, who aside from being a hockey blogger, is the PA announcer for the Predators at the Sommet Center (that is still taking some getting used to).

Media coverage:

News broke here, here, here, and here. Also here, here, here, here, and here. Canadian media here. And probably other places.

An interesting note: The blogs got the news first (of course) and the AP is way more negative on Nashville and our chances of keeping the team. Bloomberg and most bloggers are saying the team will likely be here for a while. SI still doesn’t have anything posted (now they do), but Wikipedia’s page on Jim Balsille has already been updated, listing him as the Preds owner. Of course, the Predators page doesn’t yet.

Video here.

What is also amazing is that this story was really broken by the Nashville Post (who?). I’ve never read them before but they just scooped everyone else big-time, and i just became a reader. Still nothing on the Tennessean’s site (update: now it’s here). The City Paper (my previous preference) at least said that Leipold is “close to selling the team“. In general, it looks like Channel 5 and the City Paper are leading the pack in coverage from local sources.

Opinion and Speculation:

As Paul McCann said, this throws everything into question. Could be awesome. Or he could immediately exercise the out clause the Predators have with the city (which honestly Liepold would have been dumb not to do himself) and start the wheels for the team to move. He has many times in the past expressed a desire to have another team in north, even another in the Toronto area (which could easily support an additional team).

FYI: the deadline for the team to notify the city of its intent to exercise the attendance-based out clause in their contract is June 19th (60 days after the end of the season). Even if they do exercise that clause, the city can always buy the extra tickets and prevent the move. The team would have to stay here. And honestly, given the sweet deal with the city that the team has, they would REALLY have to have a lot of money to throw away to move the team…which i guess Balsillie does…

On the other hand, this could be the boost the team needed. A Canadian (read: long-time, hardcore) hockey fan takes over the team to make it a quality product on the ice (which it has been) and off the ice (not so much lately). We could get new coaches after all (though he’d have to fire them since Leipold just resigned them) and he could invest major money in major players, which Liepold did some, but these pockets go much deeper.

On the Owners:

Jim Balsillie…

“He was Athlete of the Year at Trinity College, University of Toronto, plays hockey and golf at competitive levels, and coaches his son’s soccer and basketball teams.”

I don’t think you could say that about good ‘ol Craig.

Quote from Leipold last week when the Sommet Center announcement was made:

“When I’m talking with people, it’s all under the provision that this team is staying in Nashville, and if you’re interested, come on and we’ll continue to talk. Those people are the ones I’m restricting it to, the ones who have an interest in maintaining a team in Nashville.”

Of course, at the time we all thought he meant a minority owner.


More updates…

Channel 4 just had Vern Fiddler and Darcy Hordichuck interviewed by phone. They were both shocked and hadn’t heard anything about it. Hordichuck (an unrestricted free agent without a contract) said that Leipold seemed excited about the team.

Channel 5 interviewed Chris Mason and Shea Weber. Neither of them knew anything about it either. Mason also said he was wondering what changes in personnel might be coming as a result.

And there has already been a “Save the Predators” group started on Facebook.

Related Pictures: here.

more on the sommet center

In Hockey, Nashville, Pictures, Sports, Videos on May 19, 2007 at 6:56 pm

First, a quick update with more pictures and media.


I have to say i’m a little concerned about the color clash between the Sommet groups color scheme and the Predators, but i’m sure it will work out.

Here’s a full video of the press conference of the announcement.


Oh – and as for many of the doubters that complained about the city not getting any of the money from the naming rights deal: I don’t recall many of them complaining about the Titans stadium. The Titans keep all the money from their deal. Tax payers funded that stadium too… so lets compare the two.

Between now and September, LP Field will host 7 events (1 four-day concert series and 3 Titans’ games). In total, LP Field has 14 events listed on its calendar until the end of 07.

Between now and September, The Sommet Center will host 40 events including concerts, graduation ceremonies for local high schools, Kats games, and 3 pre-season Predators games (assuming a schedule similar to last year). IN total, assuming no more concerts or events are booked for the rest of the year, but the Predators schedule goes toughly the way it did last year, there will be 57 events held at the Sommet Center between now and the end of ’07 .

So which of these two centers do you think is generating more revenue for the city? And for that matter, which location is going to get more exposure to more people? Even with the extra TV viewing audience that the Titans draw over the Predators, that is a big difference. I’d really like to see a break down of the numbers. More visiting team cities fans watching, etc.

Biggest deal for the Predators and more importantly fans like me is that this is a local company, stepping up and sponsoring the team, practically guaranteeing that it will stay around for many more years to come.

Oh – another interesting note: no one has parked www.sommetcenter.com if you want to cybersquat it and get sued. Vision3, a website design company that lists the “Gaylord Entertainment Center” website (whatever that is) as one of its clients, has parked www.thesommetcenter.com though. But it isn’t pointing to anything yet…

The Sommet Center

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on May 18, 2007 at 6:09 am

The fact that this is the first blog entry i’ve ever made in proper capitalization should tell you something.

The Nashville Arena, aka Home of the Predators, will be named:

The Sommet Center

Pronounced “So-may”, they became the official team sponsors at the end of last season, and are stepping up even more this year. By the way, they provides HR, payroll, IT and general business support services for other companies.

I’ll try to watch for the new sign and post a picture asap.
Update: New signs are supposed to be up today – i will try to get pictures this afternoon.

Most about the significance later…
I have a big presentation to some higher ups this morning at work.

Update: Press conference is supposed to be at 11:00am this morning.

Update: Paul McCann posted about it here…and he thinks Forsberg may stay too.

Update: A picture!
No big sign up yet, but they have a temp sign over the main one.
More details…

From more articles:

Sommet Group Managing Partner Brian Whitfield and Leipold unveiled the arena’s new logo and signage. The Sommet Center name will be affixed to the exterior of the building and will be visible on the Broadway side of the Center to all visitors of downtown Nashville. In addition to interior and exterior signage, Sommet Center visitors will notice in-arena branding on the building’s marquees and graphics on the building’s new jumbotron, which will debut in September.

Tennesean article with pictures from the press conference:

The length and financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Leipold did say the number of years in the contract is in the single digits with multiple opportunities for renewal.

And last, video on Channel 2′s site is here. Wow.

Editorial side note: This report from Channel 2 is really bad. I’ve seen better on camera performances and reporting than this from highschool groups. I don’t want to bite the hand that is feeding me hits (NiT) but yikes.

stop learning, you’re in my way

In East Nashville, History/Politics, Me, Nashville on May 17, 2007 at 10:20 am

Warning: this is about a steamed as i’ve been about any issue in a while.

Yet another story you’ll see on the front page of the City Paper and i can’t find anywhere from the Tennessean:

The Nashville Public Library … this week approved a toughened version of the library system’s loitering policy, explicitly prohibiting people from “congregating” inside library buildings if perceived as unsafe or intimidating and preventing truants from loitering in public libraries during school hours.

The new policy, in addition, explicitly references gangs, prohibiting “the display or possession of gang symbols or paraphernalia, gang recruitment, gang initiation, gang fighting and gang intimidation.”

Now, unless i’m wrong, “unsafe or intimidating” behavior, as well as truancy was already against the rules in pretty much any public building. Perhaps more so in libraries.

But these new rules seem, well, stupid.

Heaven forbid that teenagers would feel comfortable around a library, or want to hang out there. We’d never want them to feel like the library was a place to spend time after school. Once school is out, we full expect them to wander out on to the streets, and hang around the bars in 5-points down the road, not hang around a place of learning where there is good lighting, visibility and security cameras guarding the area. Learning time is clearly over once the school bell rings. Oh – and if a student is involved in gang activity, we want them to stay away from the library and on the streets. We don’t want them to rub off on the librarians or other good citizens that are in the library and taint them. Imagine if the librarians started being recruited by gangs.

Just stupid.

What really blows my mind is that this policy change came about as a result of a few kids hanging around the East Branch library after school. They come across from East Literature High and hang out (it is directly across the street). This is an extremely visible, populated area. I’ve been around there when school gets out some days. I live near there. Lots of people around.

Commander Bob Nash of the East Nashville police precinct said in the article:

“When East [Literature] lets out, some of the students were going over to the library waiting to be picked up or just to congregate … and sometimes they would kind of block the doorway — I don’t think intentionally, but some people found that uncomfortable. They’d have to walk through a whole group of kids, so we’ve been trying to help them”

and his response regarding the speculation of gang activity:

“there has been some speculation of some a gang presence outside the library but nothing confirmed”

The article goes on to say that:

“According to NPL, teenage roughhousing at the public libraries has not become a huge problem”

And…

“At the downtown library, high schoolers have begun gathering more frequently this year in the youth section. They have caused no severe problems although have sometimes been warned to quiet themselves.”

Oh no! We better just shut down the whole library system right now!

So because some stuck-up person doesn’t feel comfortable walking through a group of kids hanging out at the library – we’re going to tell the kids to go elsewhere? What?!

Maybe i’m wrong, but every good teacher or librarian i’ve ever known (i come from a family of teachers) was willing to deal with cleaning up a little graffiti and asking kids to be quiet occasionally if it meant getting kids in the building and having a chance to get them excited about learning or reading. I know a lot of the kids aren’t there to read and study – but wouldn’t we rather have them in the library on the off chance that someone could have a good influence on them. It is certainly better than the alternatives like the mall, clubs, bars, or just out on the street.

In response to this post (Update: this is the woman that home-schools her kids, but got herself appointed to the school board, and was then voted out by the public in East Nashville as quickly as possible):
Should we always ask for good behavior from students? Of course.
We already did that. If kids are creating problems, there are already rules and policies in place to ask them to leave. With these policies, we are telling kids they can’t come in to the library if they are still wearing clothes that could be associated with gangs. Why?

This article clearly states that they have just had a handful of isolated complaints from a few patrons. Not the staff. Not the police.

It is the job of parents and teachers and librarians and the everyone in the community to help these kids. It is not the kids job to stay out of our way and teach themselves.

This is a horrible policy and should be rescinded immediately.
They should be begging these kids to hang out at the library.

forsberg staying in nashville?

In Blog Stuff, East Nashville, Hockey, Nashville, Sports on May 7, 2007 at 2:28 pm

I may, just may have some evidence to support that – whether or not he plays for the Nashville Predators or any other team next season – Peter Forsberg might be looking to stay in Nashville.

How am i coming up with this? Did i suddenly become friends with the hockey legend?
No.

I just check my web stats and visitors obsessively.
I had a visitor recently log in from a Swedish IP address, who hit my blog by searching Google for the phrase: “east nashville” hood

Clearly, this is Peter Forsberg (or some of his family) planning a move to the hippest ‘hood in Nashville. How can i make the jump to Forsberg?

1) How many people in Sweden are there that know that there is a part of town known as East Nashville and that it is “the hood”?

2) Google has recently implemented improved, personalized search results based on past searching history. Forsberg has searched for a lot of hockey stuff i am sure, and what do you know, i talk about hockey and East Nashville on my blog a lot.

Duh.

So all i’m sayin’ is: you heard it here first.

new east park center

In East Nashville, History/Politics, Nashville, Pictures on May 5, 2007 at 3:57 pm


Christy and i made it to the grand opening of the new East Park Community Center.
Politicians spoke, ribbons were cut, and pictures were taken:


It was cool. Really is going to be a nice place, and very inexpensive to take advantage of.

That is all.
I am boring today.

Update: Here’s the story Channel 2 did on the opening.

east nashville war protesters

In East Nashville, History/Politics, Nashville on April 30, 2007 at 5:11 pm

Well guess what i found on my way home from work today: war protesters.

Standing on the corner where i am usually accosted by kids being taught to beg as a “fund raiser”, there were instead, a group of women (who apparently were just arriving) standing on the corner with signs. (It’s the corner of Eastland and 14th).


I hope for thier sakes they were taking shifts, because if they were just setting up when i drove by at 6:24, they missed most of the rush-hour crowd.

bigatures

In Nashville, Pictures on April 27, 2007 at 9:44 pm

Inspired by this shot, i have recently gotten in to tilt-shift miniatures. They are amazingly easy to make given the right kind of source photo.

So, here’s the set of my first attempts.





Obviously some of these turned out better than others.

The basic idea is to make parts of the image that are near and far fuzzy with a simple blur, while leaving mid-field items in focus. This tricks the eye into thinking that it is a “macro” style image where the camera has a very shallow depth of focus.

Normally this involves horizontal bands of blurring, but for the 1st Ave picture (with Market Street Brewery) i had to go with vertical bands, which was kinda fun. I think it turned out very well. That one and the miniature commuter train (because those are supposed to be miniature) turned out best i think. Now that i know what to do, i’ll probably go out and take shots specifically for this sometime soon.

Funny enough, i did these while watching Night at the Museum with Christy – a movie full of miniatures that come to life.

the nhl experience – nashville style

In Funny, Hockey, Nashville, Pictures, Sports, Videos on April 8, 2007 at 3:43 pm

I’ve shot a good deal of video at recent Predators games.
As a result, i have a series of them uploaded to Google Video that, when strung together, may give you some idea what attending games can be like. (All of these can be viewed much larger by clicking on the Google Video logo instead of just hitting play)

First, we have the occasional open practice the day before a game. The Sportsplex is open to anyone that wants to watch the players run drills or sometimes even have a full practice.

Second, we have the pre-game warm-ups.
Anyone is allowed to go down near ice level (or to the glass if you get there early enough) and watch the players up close. If you are lucky, you may even be one of the many fans that J.P. Dumont or Vern Fiddler flips a puck to over the glass.

Next we have the visitor starting lineups.
In Nashville we have the tradition of yelling “SUCKS!” after each visiting players name is called out. After the coach, we yell “AND HE SUCKS TOO!”

After that, the Predators mascot, Gnash, is introduced. Sometimes he just comes out on the ice riding a four wheeler. Sometimes he comes straight down a rip line. But for really big games (first and last games of the year, playoffs, etc) he will come down the rip line swinging.

Then of course we have the Predators starting lineups as everyone skates out for the game.

Once the game gets starting, it usually isn’t long before someone on the opposing team is whisted for a penalty and has to go to the penalty box.
For this, we all yell “AHHHHHH…SIT DOWN YA LOSER!”

Once we are on the power play, it usually isn’t very long until we get to go through one of the many stages of our goal celebration with our own creative lyrics to “The Hey Song”

During intermission, there is usually some sort of silly contest featuring some people in tennis shoes trying to run around on the ice. This is my favorite flavor:

After a while the opposing team gets tired of being pushed around and they may start a little fight or two…and then someone may throw a catfish on the ice…and sometimes they happen all at once

So see, it is so much fun – everyone should come out and watch all the hockey games they can in person!

romeo without juliet

In Entertainment, Funny, Nashville on March 22, 2007 at 6:44 pm

I have to do a little mini-rant. Mostly just pointing out something i think is silly. A good idea gone just slightly wrong.

The local Yellow Pages around here have an add that plays about 10 times during every Predators game on the radio (which i listen to a lot since we don’t have cable). It is meant to promote their Companion Directories. Basically mini-versions of their normal dead-tree phone books (does anyone use those anymore?). The idea is that the two books work best in combination.

The premise is simple enough – imagine famous people in history without their famous partner.

Lewis without Clark…
Lewis: “Man are my feet tired, any one want to go further?”
Crowd: “Nah”

Orville without Wilbur…
Orville: “I will make history! Man will fly! Can someone give me a push? Anyone?”
[Silence]

… Funny enough. But then they go off the deep end…

Romeo without Juliet:
Friend: “Romeo, you doing anything tonight?”
Romeo: “Just staying at home, working on my tapestry”
Friend: “Romeo, get a life.”

The irony in the last statement is priceless. Romeo without Juliet would have lived longer! He wouldn’t have killed himself. He’d have had a chance to work on a lot more tapestries. I think all-in-all you’d have to say Romeo without Juliet would have been a generally improved situation.

Funny commercial, but i think this is just evidence of how many people read the first part of the play in high school, got lazy, and never got around to finishing it.

mtsu alum the next nhl comish?

In Entertainment, Hockey, Me, Nashville, Sports on January 31, 2007 at 5:40 pm

That’s right. Apparently MTSU alum (my alma mater) Eddie Gossage is the short list for the NHL commisioners job when Gary Bettman’s contract expires after the 07-08 season.

I’m not a 100% Bettman basher the way some are – i think the new collective bargaining agreement and new rules, etc have been great for the sport. However, under Bettman’s watch there have been 2 lockouts, one season lost all together, and the league has all but disappeared from the national radar in the US. Attendance is up, showing that hardcore fans in NHL cities are supporting the sport, but TV, radio, and other coverage around the rest of the US is paltry at best. I definitely think he needs to go and conventional wisdom is that the league owners agree.

At this point, no official inquiries have been made. Gossage is denying that he is going anywhere or that he has officially talked to anyone with the NHL. He has said he is commited to heading the Texas Motor Speedway as he has sucessfully done for a few years now. But he is a known hockey fan (gotta figure he’s a Preds fan right?) and is apparently frequently courted by other sports entities for his marketing prowess.

got $50mil laying around?

In Entertainment, History/Politics, Hockey, Nashville, Sports on January 12, 2007 at 7:40 am

I was having a good day, and then this just ruined my morning.

There are two ways to look at this:

  1. The newspaper is making a big deal out of this and Leipold is just crying out for fans to come to games and looking for help to lessen the financial burden of a franchise that is still loosing money.
  2. Leipold’s promise that he is not interested in moving the franchise is just typical sports-franchise owner misdirection and he has seen in the discussions about the Penguins moving that there is money to be made in other markets.

I have also been surprised by the fact that we still don’t have a new corporate-name sponsor for the Home of the Predators. It is still officially called the Gaylord Entertainment Center, but the Gaylord company stopped paying for naming rights a long time ago. It is just part of their original contract that is has to still be called the GEC until another name-rights holder is found.

Our attendance averages are up this year so far from last year about 300 per game, and we still haven’t gone through the playoff buildup, and post-Titans part of the season that always increase attendance. I don’t think the franchise is really in danger of moving. But i hope this does light a fire under local media and the Predators marketing office to get attendance numbers up.

I don’t think Leipold is really looking to move. As this article points out, he has one of the cushiest arena deals in all of sports. I think he just wants to shake things up and share the losses when the team runs negative.

The good news out of the second article: We get our new scoreboard over the summer!

(note: Paul McCann’s got a good write-up here)

geothermal projects

In Cool Tech, East Nashville, Nashville on November 30, 2006 at 2:12 pm

Just a quick note about a new project in the projects. A public housing project in East Nashville (our ‘hood) has been selected to be a pilot for a new system for using geothermal energy to assist in heating/cooling the units.

However, I wouldn’t look to the article about it on the Tennessean’s website as a source of helpful information though. Among my favorite quotes: “Geothermal energy generates power by using the ground as an energy source.” There are so many things wrong with that statement it’s hard to break it down. If someone has figured out how to turn actual dirt into electricity, please, let me invest in that company now.

First, “geothermal energy” is just the heat energy that comes from radioactive and other processes deep within the Earth’s core. Basically, the Earth is a big heated blanket.

Second, “geothermal power” refers to using geothermal energy to generate power. It takes the heat out of the ground (not the ground itself) and uses it to create steam to drive turbines which generate electricity. Unless the housing authority is going to build a small but very expensive geothermal power plant in East Nashville, i doubt very seriously this is what is going down in the ‘hood.

I think what they are really doing is geothermal heating. That is, using the heat in the ground to make the normal, electric-powered heating and cooling of the building and water supply more efficient. It basically involves running pipes into the ground to heat water, and use that heated water to help pre-heat air and water before going through the normal air conditioning and water heaters.

Anyway, i don’t want this to degenerate into another article bashing bad reporting and fact-checking. It is meant to be a post about the cool new project itself. It really is great that they are using these new technologies to make the projects more efficient. Saving taxpayers money, and helping show the viability of these “green” resources for use by others.

root root root for the home team

In Basketball, Nashville, Sports on November 27, 2006 at 8:48 pm

Tonight my wife and i were talking about the clappers that the Predators just handed out at a home game last week. We weren’t at the game, but from what i understand, it was insanely loud. Painfully, annoyingly loud.

Christy made some comment about the HOP (the corporate sponsor-less “Home Of the Predators”) being the loudest arena in the league. I was a little harsh and kidded her that she is new to being a sports fan and didn’t know that everyone makes that claim (i’m really sorry about that sweetheart). But that got me wondering just how many places do make that claim…

Here is but a small sampling:
Delta Center (Utah Jazz) “[The MCI Center] isn’t nose-bleed steep like Delta Center in Utah, which, not coincidentally, is the loudest arena in the NBA…”

Arco Arena (Sacramento Kings) “Sacramento has a league-best streak of 317 sellouts at Arco Arena, which has been the loudest arena in the league…”

HP Pavilion (San Jose Sharks) “They say San Jose is the loudest arena in the NHL…”

Bell Center (Montreal Canadeans) “…in the Bell Center where Montreal could get a great boost from the noisiest crowd in the NHL…”

The RBC (Carolina Hurricanes) “…after Ray Whitney’s second goal in game two the level was measured at 134 at the RBC even with all the millions of Sabre fans in the building. Say what you want but it is the loudest arena in the NHL…”

Cleveland Coliseum (Cleveland Cavs) “Michael Jordan has said that the Cleveland Coliseum is the loudest arena in the NBA”

So…that is obviously not a scientific sampling. But gives you some idea.

I can personally vouch that while you are there, the Spurs claim that the SBC Center is the loudest. Everyone still brags that the old Hemisfair Arena was louder still (no one said that the Alamo Dome was loudest, even though it had the largest seating capacity at the time…something about a massive velvet curtain tends to damping things a bit).

Point being, for the home team, home is always best. Those few souls who are impartial and actually get to visit multiple arenas (national broadcasters, etc) tend to play along and say that wherever they are, that it is the loudest they’ve ever heard. Of course, Bill Walton (apparently having an extremely short memory) always thinks everything he is experiencing at that moment is the best in history: “That dunk by bench player Ian McFarlin was the most amazing I’ve ever seen!”. At the very least, he will compare to some historic figure before: “Ryan Hollins is the best rookie center to come into the league since Patrick Ewing”

Anyway…
We’ve got spirit, how ’bout you?

night of blogging and hockey 2

In East Nashville, Hockey, Nashville, Sports on October 19, 2006 at 7:49 pm

7:25pm
So this is my third time sitting in Beyond the Edge to watch a Predators game.
Every game so far, the place has been relatively empty. Well not empty exactly, but not a lot of activity.

Tonight is very different. I am guessing its a Thirsty Thursday thing or something.
Lots of people coming in and out – even though the weather outside is nasty.
Just interesting to me. Even the poker tournament night they had last night didn’t have this much by far.

(Later confirmed – yes, they are doing 2-for-1)


7:40pm
Steve Sullivan is out of the game tonight with back spasms. Josef Vasiceck was already out with …something, and Darcy Hordichuk is out with separated cartilage on his ribs. So our “problem” of having too many good forwards on contracts to be able to bring in rookie sensation Alexander Radulov seems to have been solved. Too bad he couldn’t be brought up fast enough though. We only have 19 skaters dressed tonight. It’s forcing Trotz to run some interesting lines. I always love it when he does this.

Earlier he sent out the line of Karyia, Arnott, and Tootoo. I love those sorts of lines. To me, they are the best balance of skill, speed, strength, offense, defense, etc. They already scored once. Trotz even played these kinds of lines last year in the playoffs. I understand that there is a reason to have the lines as the usually are, but its nice to see these lines too. They are just so dang entertaining.


7:50pm
So Nashville is playing New Jersey tonight. You’d expect that to mean Vokoun vs. Brodeur. Well, not tonight. Trotz is still rotating Mason and Vokoun to help them both get in a rhythm and Broduer had played every game so far this year until tonight. So we have Mason vs. Clemmensen.

Of course to this point, Chris Mason is having a great game in goal. Only allowed one and it was a cross-ice back door deflection on the penalty kill. So i don’t blame him too much for that.

Brodeur not playing also solved a real dilemma for me. You see, i am a huge Predators fan and have 3 Preds on my fantasy team. But Brodeur is my main fantasy goalie. It was going to be hard for both my skaters and my goalie to do well tonight. Not to mention, i didn’t want Brodeur to get the win. I purposely got all three goalies from the eastern conference to avoid just this sort of problem. So with Brodeur not playing, things are much better :-)

I have to say, Clemmensen has pretty cool pads. At least from a distance on TV, they look all brown – so they look leather. Very old-school. If that isn’t what they are, it should be. (Note added: you can see in the picture at the end of this post that he has black pads, not brown, but they do still look cool)

That is definitely what I would want – have modern gear, but make it look like the really old-school pads from the 60′s or 70′s. Speaking of which, I don’t even remember how I found it the other day, but I found a site that has a whole bunch of vintage goalie masks. It is scary what those guys wore (or didn’t wear) back in the day. Of course everyone knows the “Jason” style masks from the horror movies, but some of these are even more open and less protective than that. Amazing they weren’t killed on every slapshot.



7:59pm
So the Preds just scored off a face-off. Shorthanded.
It was a faceoff in the Devil’s end, Preds won the faceoff and Suter just took a one-timer. Went right through the crowd and through the 5-hole. All 3 of our points (and NJ’s 1 goal too) have come on special teams. Given how much the refs are blowing the whistles tonight, should make for an interesting game.


8:02pm
And now someone from Lightning 100 just came in with posters and a few boxes of CDs. This place is loud and busy enough with two-for-one night. Most important, she’s setting up on the stage between me and the TV with the game on. She had better not block it with a poster, that’s all I’m saying. Of course, if I get a free CD or something and still get to watch the game, so much the better :-)


8:10pm
Ok, they are doing a music trivia night. That is somewhat fun. I’ll give them that.

8:29pm
I knew about half the 10 trivia questions in round one. Relatively easy stuff like “which of these bands is not in the R&R Hall of Fame? Led Zepplin, Journey, The Sex Pistols” and “Who wrote the Bangles hit ‘Manic Monday’?”

But many of them were about modern artists they play on Lightning 100 and I had never heard of them, much less know who so and so is the lead singer for, or who’s new album is named whatever…but of course they are here to promote their station and music, so that’s fine. Kinda fun concept really. Of course, those who know me know that i love trivia, especially about music, so even if i cant win, its fun to see this kinda thing.


9:40pm
Back at home.
Preds won in the shootout (gave up 2 quick goals late in the 3rd).
That makes it a clean sweep on the road trip.

–out

5 points addition?

In East Nashville, Nashville on October 16, 2006 at 12:10 pm

I just read an article in the City Paper talking about a new development in 5-point. Not in the 5 Points area, but one of the actual 5 “points”. Ya know, the parking lot next to the realtors.

The lot cant be more than 40ft by 100ft at most, and its now supposed to house a 2-3 story building with retail and residential spots?

I don’t think so.

Parking is already an issue down there, but now we’re going to take away spots – and add reasons to need more of them? Not to mention it is going to completly block the view of Art & Invention, which is realistically the destination on that “point”.

The author of this piece seems very excited. He wants to get rid of the “mulch pit” and the parking lot. 5 Points is an area, not an intersection. There is nothing magical about those “points” themselves.

The parking is needed and visually opens up the intersection. The “mulch pit” belongs to Cumberland Hardware store that has been there since at least early 60′s. Get rid of the “pit” and it will likely drive them out of business.

Does a “modern” 3 story building towering over the area honestly sound like a good idea for “historic” 5-points? Instead, I would vote that some of the other buildings in the area be re-habbed into useful spaces (such as the red-ish purple building next to the Citgo, the always-closed interior decorator next to Cumberland Hardware, or the former Karma building behind Alley Cat).

They are also planning on calling it “The Woodland at 5 Points”. Um…pretentious? Yes. Lame? Yes! How about calling it “Le Pent-house” (ha ha, get it…”pent”). Besides, its address won’t even be on Woodland, it will be on South 11th Street, but i guess “The South 11th Street at 5 Points” sounds really dumb.

Yes, the Citgo could use a face-lift, but other than that why compress more construction (which will destroy traffic patterns while being built) into a historic area when you could move just down the block and stretch the space further, probably for cheaper too.

Oh – and he also rattled off a few nicknames for 5 Points.
My new nomination: da penta

(update: the property in question is parcel 08309017900 and is exactly 35.75ft x 143 feet. With 6 feet of right-of-way and sidewalks off two edges, it is effectivly 30ft x 137ft.)

night of blogging and hockey

In Hockey, Nashville, Sports on October 12, 2006 at 8:36 pm

So tonight i hung around and watched hockey at a bar, and blogged…
Here is the result:



8:09pm
So, i have discovered that an interesting side effect of having a blog: i am constantly thinking of things to blog during the day – especially while in the car. Of course, now that i can actually write it, i can’t remember most of what i was going to say.

I was originally hoping to watch the game at Batter’d n Fried. Alas, they have a baseball playoff game on there, and Matt (the owner) directed me “up stairs” (actually up a hill and across a parking lot) to Beyond the Edge. He owns both places and is trying to make BTE a place known for having the Preds games on. Don’t get me wrong, I love the concept – except that Batter’d n Fried is smoke-free. BTE is not. It’s not horrible. Certainly not as bad as the Box Seat or other sports bars i’ve been in, but it’s there none-the-less. Oh – and BNF is a good, casual restaurant. Quiet-ish. BTE is has a loud-ish crowd here mostly for beer (duh) and worse: a juke box blaring really loud (usually really bad) music. Just not conducive to watching, thinking, and typing. But they didn’t ask me.



8:15pm
End of the first period. Preds down 0-1. doh.
I’m going to use the intermission to start writing a big blog entry about what’s wrong with Major League Baseball. Yes i am writing in my blog that i am going to start writing a future blog entry. Maybe i’m taking this blog thing too far…



8:22pm
Fox Sports just showed a really cool looking feature with Jordan Tootoo and Scottie Upshall doing a community outreach deal where they played street hockey with a bunch of kids and signed autographs and stuff. Looked really cool. They also talked a lot. Too bad I didn’t hear a word of it! No close caption, and no way i could hear it over the deafening, bad nu-metal. Oh well.



8:54pm
So after much writing, this baseball story is apparently turning into that: a story. Its already way too long for a blog entry. I may need to create a section for “essays” or something.

Back to the topic of my venue for the evening. I moved from a seat at a bar-type thing (standing table in the middle of the restaurant) to a nice cushy high-backed chair on a stage-like thing they have here. Its just up a few inches, so its not like i really am on stage. But it’s right in front of a plasma, and is a lot easier on my back than the bar stool was. This i can live with. Even if i will smell like an ashtray and be deaf when i get home.



9:00pm
I’ll say this much. The Preds are still down 0-1, but we are playing way better hockey than those first two games. We are on the attack, but not giving up odd man rushes. We are making Chicago work for every shot. The defensmen are playing smart and the forwards are not out of position. By all rights we should be up at least 2-1 anyway. We’ve pinged the post no fewer than 3 times that i’ve noticed and the 2nd period isn’t even over yet. Mason has been playing lights-out too. I don’t think Vokoun has lost his mojo, he’s still our #1 goalie, but it’s good to know Mason is at least as good and gives us a solid 2nd backstop when we need it. And heck, i’ll say it: if it turns out Vokoun did loose his stuff, it is nice to have a good option for #1.



9:29pm
Finally, the predators scored!
About 5 min into the 3rd, its 1-1.
Bad part…the bar hasn’t been this quiet all night long. No kidding. The juke box just quit about the time the puck went in, and its creepy quiet in here. Noone reacted to the goal except myself (a slight double-fist pump and “yes” under my breath). I looked around and didn’t see any other reactions. Sad.


10:53pm
So that’s it. Pred’s lost 3-1 (take away the empty-netter and it was 2-1). A well played game, but still a loss. Not a great start this year.

And with that…my longest blog entry to date (hopefully ever?) comes to an end.