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City, investors to announce agreement on Predators' arena lease @NHLdotcom

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -The local investor group trying to buy the Nashville Predators for $193 million has apparently reached agreement on changes to the team's arena lease.

When asked to confirm that a deal had been reached, a spokesman for the investor group would only say a news conference had been scheduled for Wednesday afternoon at the Sommet Center. A spokeswoman for Metro Nashville Mayor Karl Dean did not immediately respond to a message Wednesday.

But Dean gave what he called a final offer to the investors at the end of last week, and the investors had spent the past few days studying the proposal. They also had asked for clarification on some terms.

The deal must be approved first by the Metro Sports Authority and the city council. News of the scheduled announcement was first reported by The Tennessean on its Web site.

The investor group wanted changes in the arena lease to help them stem losses. Predators owner Craig Leipold said he had lost $70 million in his 10 years with the franchise when he initially announced a sale to a Canadian billionaire in May.

That deal fell through when Jim Balsillie, co-CEO of Blackberry makers Research in Motion Ltd. started taking season ticket deposits in Hamilton, Ontario.

The NHL also still must approve the sale.

The local group put down $10 million as a nonrefundable deposit for the team in August, and Leipold extended their exclusive negotiating period on Oct. 31 to give the investors more time to work out the arena lease.

Under Metro's final proposal, the new owners would have an exit clause and could leave in three years if the investors lose $20 million and paid attendance falls below 14,000 per game.

The team would have to repay $6.8 million a year to leave before five years, money paid by the city to help operate and manage the arena. The owners would have to pay $10 million to exit after five years.


AP Sports Writer Teresa M. Walker contributed to this report.

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