The Nashville Predators today made a significant commitment to local hockey with the presentation of a check in the amount of $150,000 to the hockey programs at A-Game Sports in Franklin. The funds will be used to support local hockey programs and involve more children in the sport of hockey.
Jeff Cogen, President of the Predators, told me after the presentation that the Predators were not taking an ownership interest in A-Game, but were making a grant from the ownership group to support local hockey. Cogen indicated that the team realized that these funds would be used to cultivate more participation in hockey and that the team looked at this as an investment in the future. More involvement of children in hockey will eventually mean more fans in the future.
Cogen referenced the Dr. Pepper Stars Centers in Dallas. He said that when he arrived in Dallas, there was one ice rink and no high school hockey. When he departed for Nashville, there were 16 rinks and 120 high school hockey teams in the Dallas Metro area.
Acknowledging that Nashville has a good base, he said that the intent is to grow the game of hockey with children, stating that they are not only the fans of the future, but will involve their families as the fans of today.
The model that was used in Dallas was to convince municipalities to invest in ice rinks by issuing municipal bonds. The team would then take over the operation of the rinks and pay the bonds back from operating revenue. In Dallas, the Stars were able to secure the commitment of Dr. Pepper for naming rights and those proceeds along with operating revenues were used to pay back the debt on the facilities.
The same model will be attempted here in the Nashville market.
When asked how many more rinks the Nashville area needed to satisfy current demand, Cogen did not hesitate. "Six. Right now."
This is a decidedly positive development for hockey in Nashville and is a tangible sign of the Predators commitment to the market. The development and growth of youth hockey will yield a bounty of long term benefits. Predator fans should regard this investment as a sign of the long term commitment of the ownership group to the success of hockey in this market.
And that is a solid investment.