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Experience

Nashville Predators franchise to remain in Nashville

In 2007, the original owner of the Nashville Predators announced his intention to sell the National Hockey League franchise to Jim Balsillie, the Canadian CEO of Research in Motion, the maker of the Blackberry wireless email device. Within weeks, Balsillie asked the NHL Board of Governors to consider granting permission to relocate the team to Hamilton, Ontario at the same time it reviewed his ownership application. While Balsillie's bid—which was in the form of a nonbinding agreement was still being considered—a group of Nashville investors began to formulate a plan to keep the team in Music City.

The investors asked Waller to help develop both a public relations and a legal strategy to ensure the Predators stayed in Nashville. A critically important aspect of this overall strategy was reworking the team's contracts with the local Sports Authority to reflect the financial realities of hockey in Nashville, and Waller was instrumental in the passage of a myriad of state and local legislative measures that increased the new owners' ability to control and increase revenue.

Waller represented the new ownership group in the acquisition of the franchise and in the negotiations to revise the terms of the team's lease of Bridgestone Arena and secure annual operating support and incentives to host additional events at the arena. In return, the Predators committed to remain on the ice in Nashville for a minimum of five years, contingent upon attendance levels and other financial benchmarks. Years later, the Predators still call Nashville home.

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Chris Wilson
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