Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Predators staying in Nashville?

The seemingly endless soap opera involving the Nashville Predators' imminent move took another turn Wednesday as Craig Leipold met with commissioner Gary Bettman to discuss a third bid for the team recently received by Leipold from a Nashville-based group hoping to keep the Predators in Music City.

After so much turmoil involving this situation, it must be a relief for the Predators organization and their fans that the team now has a legitimate chance of remaining in Nashville. With Balsillie's bid, contingent on moving the franchise to Hamilton, ON, all but voided, it seems that the local group's sole competition comes from San Jose entrepeneur William "Boots" Del Biaggio who has plans of moving the Predators to Kansas City to play in the shiny, new Sprint Center.

My personal distaste for Predators hockey aside, the team remaining in Nashville is probably the best option at this point for the National Hockey League. There is no doubt in my mind that the team would have easily flourished in Hamilton, but with Balsillie being shown the door, that fantasy has been shut down. I would much rather see the team stay in Music City, where they have been building up a decent following, albeit one that doesn't translate to corporate support, rather than Kansas City where, once the novelty wears off, the team will be playing to empty buildings on a regular basis.

If a Kansas City team does materialize, I would prefer it to be spawned through expansion, which seems like a plausible outcome with producer Jerry Bruckheimer rumored to being awarded a franchise in Las Vegas, which would be balanced out by an Eastern Conference team, likely one occupying the Sprint Center. Of course, all of this is thrown out the window if the bid by the local group falls through and/or a new bid emerges, and as has been the case with this entire phenomenon, both outcomes are not only possible, but should probably be expected.

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