Metro Gives Preds Owner Three Weeks to get Financial House in Order

The Metro Sports Authority has put a deadline on David Freeman, the lead owner of the Nashville Predators, to resolve a $3 million tax lien. The board voted Friday to hold off on putting the team in default of its Sommet Center lease.

The tax dispute from 2007 wasn’t disclosed when David Freeman helped buy the hockey team the same year, which could put the owners in default of an agreement signed with the city. If held in default, the team could have to pay millions in penalties.

Instead of trying to collect penalties, the Sports Authority is trying to work out a deal. Board member Lauren Brisky has been meeting with Predators officials and even the commissioner of the NHL. She’s asked that the owners either prove they can pay the penalties or commit to staying in Nashville.

“The team must provide the Sports Authority written acknowledgment that it is waiving its early termination rights exercisable in 2010 and 2011.”

Board member Ralph Perrey says the conditions are reasonable but warns the Sports Authority not to ask too much of the owners, who have struggled financially.

“Let’s not go about this in a way that has people saying ‘they’re trying to make sure the Predators are dead.’”

Representing the Predators, attorney James Weaver wouldn’t comment on the proposed conditions. Instead, he says David Freeman will have his tax lien resolved soon.

“He doesn’t think he owes it. And when we get a review of that and a ruling on that from the IRS then that will be taken care of.”

The Sports Authority has given Freeman until March 5th to pay his taxes or have the other owners take over his portion of the financial guarantees.

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