A-Game

A potential deal to be worked out on the A-Game Sportsplex , one that would have kept it as a sports facility and not office space, has fallen apart.

After nearly a year of talks and due diligence, Brookside Properties, the developer which had an option to buy the property for somewhere between $16 and $20 million, could not complete a deal. Representatives for Brookside could not be reached for comment. The property is now listed for sale by real estate broker Avison Young.

In December, the county and other potential tenants had already pulled out talks leaving only the city of Franklin involved within Brookside in talks to figure out a way to keep the sportsplex as a sportsplex.

According to several people with knowledge of talks, what to do with the former ice hockey part of A-Game was a sticking point that went unresolved. The owner, SLG Management, tore the ice out last spring when a different deal was still in place to sell to office developers.

The county decided that they would not be interested in leasing the former ice hockey portion of the building.

The proposed lease, of 20-years for upwards of $1 million a year, was too much of a commitment for the county, according to county representatives.

“We really put an effort into seeing a way to make it viable to provide services and courts there, but after several months of due diligence we decided it was not in the county’s best interest,” Gordon Hampton, county Parks and Rec director, said.

Brookside, which began due diligence to buy the property in June and save it as a Sportsplex, had gone through an extension on its option to purchase and several potential suitors for the former ice rinks, torn out last spring when a deal was still in place with SLG, the owners, to sell to AL Neyer for $16 million and convert it into an office campus with MARS Petcare as an anchor.

That deal fell through, leaving open space and concrete floors on one half and volleyball and basketball courts on the other of the building, which also has some plumbing issues and a leaking roof and years of poor maintenance by its original owners in its 15-year existence, according to court papers filed by SLG in a lawsuit indirectly related to the current situation.

Alliance Volleyball, which has a lease in place with SLG, was currently allowed use of the courts while deals were being worked out. Alliance and MDG Sports Management, the Predators-affiliated hockey club that used the ice, filed suit against SLG last year after news of the Neyer deal came out — and when SLG attempted to vacate their leases early. A tentative truce was reached; MDG, which had a lease through 2019, took a buyout but Alliance, after putting a deal in place to move to Franklin Field House, walked away from that came back until the end of March, and moved back in again with a side agreement with SLG brokered by Brookside at the end of the summer.

Jeff Wismer, director for Alliance, said that the club has a lease currently in place with the current owners and they are comfortable and committed to that multi-year deal.

He said he feels good about the place the club is in, and that Alliance has had a good year with growing membership, successful tournaments, and feels secure in the mufti-year lease agreement they hold with A-Game’s owners.

The Predators’ hockey club and the county were potential tenants on the other side, and all passed according to Trigg Wilkes, a former partner in the A-Game ownership group. Vice-Mayor Brandy Blanton said that any talks with the city of Franklin to get involved in the deal did not yield fruit.

Wilkes, current owner of Franklin Field House, predicted in December that the Brookside deal would not happen.

“They really have been doing everything they can to make this work,” he said. “I┬áthink there are very few people who know the numbers the way I do. If the Field House closed I think they have a shot at making it work but they would have to absorb all the income we have coming in to make it happen and that is what I said to the city and the county, by doing this deal, what have you really accomplished, when a deal was in place to accommodate everyone.”

“A lot of smart people have looked at the financials and thought the best use of that building is not what is has been.”

Brookside and SLG did not return calls for comment as of this publication.

 

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