by Matt Pulle
on Tue, Jun 17, 2008 at 10:52 AM
Still waiting and waiting and waiting for The Tennessean's Gail Kerr to offer a mea culpa. Or some mild expression of regret for repeatedly shilling for the Nashville Predators now that Boots Del Biaggio III, the team's second-biggest owner, has declared bankruptcy, been accused of fraud and is being investigated by the federal authorities—the ultimate white-collar hat trick. When the proposed deal for a new lease for the Predators first spilled out in her paper—accompanied, I might add, with some good, critical reporting about how it played out—Kerr used her column to back the new ownership group for the Predators in a series of columns that Boots probably has framed by his nightstand.
I'm not blaming Kerr for failing to sift out Del Biaggio, who bought his stake in the team after she completed most of her work for the Predators. But I think she should now publicly question her own uncritical adulation of David Freeman, the team's majority owner, who won a sweetheart lease from the city even though for all his money and stature, he still went into business with a two-bit con man named Boots, who, worst of all, likes the music of Seal. Thanks, Freeman—fine mess you got us in. The press should be slapping you around like a hockey puck in sudden death.
Considering that we will be subsidizing his team with $7.4 million in annual payments and incentives and have a financial stake in the team's on-and-off the ice performance, it would be nice if we were whoring ourselves out to a better class of businessmen. We'd feel better about ourselves in the morning. Now we have to throw out some Boots from underneath our bed while we ask ourselves why we ever got into a relationship with Freeman in the first place. Maybe Kerr can lead us through that process. It will be therapeutic for all of us. (And, by the way, is it even a tiny surprise that James Weaver, the Waller attorney and lobbyist for the Preds, had his fingerprints all over this mess?)
So one last thing: How is this going to end? Could a bankruptcy judge in California decide where our team will play in 2010? Will another investor swoop in and take Boots' place? Will the city have to shell out more tax dollars to keep the team in town? I don't know the answer to any of these questions. I hope Freeman or Dean or Kerr does.