• Dave McGuire

Will Minor League Hockey Co-Anchor Arena?

The Clarksvillian

The idea of minor league hockey in Clarksville has been publicly avoided by city leadership. If a decision is not etched in stone, it's best to avoid the commitment.

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

After a few conversations around town, there appear to be 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. The move will prove an interesting transition to monitor the performance of an inexperienced sports authority.

The county will pay Powers Management an annual fee of $550k+ paid on a monthly basis. During F&M Bank Arena'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, F&M Bank Arena will be guaranteed to be the home for Austin Peay’s basketball programs – both regular season and postseason. 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 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 additional revenue would be a minor league hockey team. The investment by the NHL’s Nashville Predators is interesting for several reasons. Beyond the revenue aspect, the Preds have shown a consistent interest in growing the Middle Tennessee hockey market from youth through adults. The Preds developmental programs and teaching clinics are unique to even pro sports. Throughout the year, skating lessons, classes regarding game rules, specialized targeted interests of specific groups, youth and amateur athletics are each part of the NHL's Predators engagement policy. If you're unfamiliar with the Predators' programs, visit the ice rinks they've built in Antioch, Bellevue and Gallatin. Another step the Preds may take towards growing a market of fans may be found in a league similar to 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 to consider is the league actively showing a willingness to expand during recent years. With the emerging reputation, Clarksville has developed over the past 5 years, along with backing from the Preds, a Middle Tennessee minor league team could prove worthy of consideration.

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