Predators get naming deal for Nashville arena

AP Sports Writer
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The Nashville Predators finally have a new deal and a new name to emblazon on their arena under an agreement announced Friday.

The building - originally called the Nashville Arena, then the Gaylord Entertainment Center and most recently the Nashville Arena again - will be called The Sommet Center under a multiyear deal with the Sommet Group, a provider of business services based in the Nashville suburb of Franklin.

Predators owner Craig Leipold declined to release the dollar value of the deal, but said it includes a clause for annual renewal. He added that it could possibly end up being a long-term deal. "We're thrilled to death," he said.

The Sommet Group provides human resources administration, payroll processing and insurance and risk management services.

The Predators started out with the arena named for the city that built and paid for it, then switched to the Gaylord Entertainment Center in a 1999 deal with what was then a minority owner. Gaylord Entertainment Company agreed to an $80 million, 20-year naming rights agreement.

But the company stopped making payments in May 2003, and the Predators sued followed by a lawsuit by Gaylord in July 2003 arguing the team breached a contract requiring it to buy back the company's ownership stake.

They finally settled the legal fight in February 2005 with the Predators buying back outstanding shares held by Gaylord with a partial payment from the company for the naming rights. That also ended the naming rights deal, freeing the Predators to find a new deal.

Sommet was a sponsor of the Predators during their first-round playoff series loss to San Jose.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.) AP-NY-05-18-07 1247EDT