• Eric Fisher

Minor League Hockey Will Co-Anchor Arena

Updated: May 4

The Clarksvillian

Publicly the idea of minor league hockey in Clarksville has been dismissed by city leadership. Those statements are questionable to the bottom line of the arena and here's why.

The MPEC management contract will be controlled by Powers Management, business partners of the Nashville Predators, with primary leasing tenants being Austin Peay State University basketball programs. Powers Management will assume management responsibilities for the sales, marketing and identifying sponsorship rights related to the MPEC.

As I spoke with locals, there are two primary concerns with Powers Management. Those concerns should be easily put to rest as the business begins its public relations.

- History of transparency

- An ability to host business events in the form of convention services

The overall business operation will include the newly formed Montgomery County Sports Authority acting as the liaison for the community. It will prove an interesting transition to monitor the performance of an inexperienced SA. With that acknowledged, everyone must have a starting point and a solid business agreement will balance as the identifier of responsibilities.

The county will pay Powers Management an annual fee of $550k+ paid on a monthly basis. During MPEC’s first year, it will be the sole responsibility of Powers Management to schedule a minimum of 20 ticketed events. This scheduling transaction will result in Powers Management receiving $1.50 per ticket sold after the 20 event minimum has been reached. That arrangement is a strong reminder of the facility not functioning as a convention center to the local business community, as previously discussed by city leadership.

APSU will pay Montgomery County a leasing fee of $1 million annually during the first 5 years of operation. The annual payment reduces to $800k over the next 25 years.

Within this agreement, the MPEC will be guaranteed to be the home for Austin Peay’s basketball programs – both regular season and post season. As an offset, APSU will earn all ticket revenue from basketball games at the arena associated with non-premium seating and side-court VIP seating. The university will also be provided 750 complimentary tickets for each of its basketball games to be used at the university’s discretion.

Summary of Revenue Projections:

  • $715k in sponsorships

  • $630k in concessions and retail

  • $410k in Ticketmaster and Box Office

  • $326k in hockey revenue, $292k in skating programs and $238k in rentals and tournaments

The larger sources of expected revenue are shown above. All of the combined projections, with reasonable accounting allowances for concessions/tickets/retail, shows a hockey operation of nearly $1 million annually.

  • Club team for APSU?

  • Local leagues and high school development?

  • College or youth tournaments?

Another unspoken potential source of the additional revenue would be a minor league hockey team. The investment by the NHL’s Nashville Predators is important for several reasons. Beyond the revenue aspect, the Preds have shown a consistent interest in building the Middle Tennessee hockey market from youth through adults. The Preds developmental programs are unique to even pro sports. Throughout the year they having skating lessons, rules lessons, classes for specific groups, youth and amateur athletics etc etc. They are all about growing the market. If you're unfamiliar with their programs, check out the rinks they've built in Antioch and Bellevue. Another step the Preds may take to growing a market of fans could be found in a league similar The Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL). The league's cities have demographics and arena sizes similar to both Clarksville and the MPEC.

Another key component is the league actively showing a willingness to expand during the past few years. With the emerging reputation Clarksville has developed in the past 5 years, along with the backing from the Preds, a northern Tennessee team could prove to be worthy of consideration.

The additional information on specifics of the revenue projections are expected by the end of 2020. In this changing world of covid-19 don't be surprised if there are delays pushing the information release closer to Q1 2021.