Bridgestone Arena – Nashville Predators
Music City’s Coolest Cats
Hockey has gotten a solid foothold in the southeastern U.S. and its home is the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. Despite claims by hockey purists that said hockey would never be successful in the South, both the arena and its NHL tenant, the Nashville Predators, are heading into their third decade together. The arena opened in 1996, with the team beginning play in 1998, following the lockout of the 1997 season. The 17,113 seat arena now has 72 luxury suites, two private clubs, nearly 50 concessions areas and 8 bars. Bridgestone Arena has shown it can handle the biggest events in the sports world, as it hosted the 2016 NHL All Star Weekend and the 2017 Stanley Cup Finals. ESPN ranked the Predators and their arena as the #1 Franchise in Professional Sports for Value and Fan Experience.
Food & Beverage 5
As a hospitality-based city, Nashville knows how to treat the customer well. This is especially evident in the concessions offerings at Bridgestone Arena. First, the facility goes beyond just offering the stadium/arena staples and adding unexpected items to the menu. Two examples of this are Nashville Hot Chicken ($12) and a chicken and waffles sandwich ($9). Another aspect of the concessions program that sets it apart are the many methods utilized for delivery to the fans. This includes the use of two in house restaurants, The Patron Platinum Club and Tavern ’96, and eight bars. There are 21 concession stands arranged in food courts to serve fans more efficiently along with 25 beer, food or bar portables that take up less room on a concourse and serve a more limited menu of items.
These innovations have been recognized by many publications and organizations in the sports and food service industry. Bridgestone Arena has been rated #1 in the NHL for concessions by Food and Wine, Food Republic and Yahoo Lifestyle. It also was ranked in the TOP 5 Arenas by Chat Sports. Most importantly, the concessions program at Bridgestone has received high marks from the fans themselves. A quick review of Trip Advisor, Yelp or other internet-based review sites finds a high level of satisfaction with the foods and beverages served at the home of the Predators.
A quick review of the prices for the more standard items compares very favorably to other arenas. These prices include hot dogs ($4), pizza ($5.75), popcorn ($3), BBQ sandwich ($9.50), candy ($4), peanuts ($4). Beverages include bottled water ($5), sodas ($6) and canned or draft beers ($9).
Nashville has lots of experience in putting on a good show, and the Bridgestone Arena is no different. The facility is well equipped electronically with the best in audio, lighting and special effects equipment. Well before the game starts you are treated with great music, video visits from some of Nashville’s top entertainers and information on the evening’s game. Each night of the week features a special promotion with one of the team’s corporate sponsors.
Bridgestone Arena does a great job of firing the fans up with a fantastic pregame show. The lights dim, the music begins to play AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” and the Predators hype video plays on the scoreboard. Just when you can’t get more pumped, a huge sabretooth tiger head descends to the ice from the roof.
Once the game begins, the atmosphere continues at a fever pitch as the video board is used to lead cheers, including “Let’s Go Preds.” During breaks in the action, music fills the void. Lest you think Nashville is a one tune town, rock songs predominate to keep up the energy.
The between period activity is decidedly Nashville in flavor. A mini concert featuring talent from local clubs helps make the intermission go by very quickly.
While the outcome of the Predators game determines your happiness at the end of the night… you will definitely head out of the arena feeling entertained.
When your arena is located in what is known as “Music City,” there is no better neighborhood to be in than Nashville’s Lower Broadway District. Bridgestone Arena is so mindful of its location that it has angled its front entry gate to face out directly upon the mother church of country music… the Ryman Auditorium. Just a block away is the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and across Broadway is the Honky Tonk Highway, home to some of the finest music venues in country music. Some legendary spots such as Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, the Tin Roof and the Johnny Cash Museum and Saloon are just across the intersection from the Bridgestone Arena.
The Lower Broadway District is filled with great restaurants and hotels as well. They include the Hilton Suites and the Hyatt Place. Dining establishments in the district include Mason’s Southern Provision’s and the Tennessee Brew Works.
The City of Nashville is truly one of the top tourist destinations in the U.S. Among the sites to visit outside of the South Broadway District are the Grand Ole Opry, the Parthenon, Music Row and Vanderbilt University. On the sports front, Nissan Stadium, home of the NFL Tennessee Titans, is just across the river and First Tennessee Park, home of the minor league baseball Nashville Sounds, is just south of Bridgestone Arena.
The fan base for the Predators has really bought into the Smashville branding campaign. In the early days of the franchise that might mean people came to see the hockey fights, but it now means they come to enjoy tough, aggressive hockey.
Nearly everyone in the crowd wears the mustard colors of the team, and the energy level within the seating bowl is high. They love a hard check into the boards, a successful killing off of a penalty period or an especially sharp offensive charge.
Opposing goaltenders hate playing in front of the Pred’s fans as they know they will be thoroughly embarrassed after allowing a goal. When the Predators score, the crowd begins a ritual chant of the goaltender’s first name. The chanting is abruptly ended with a loud… YOU SUCK! While this may seem rude to some, it is all done in a good-natured way.
The Predators team really feeds off the energy generated by its fan base. This has really paid off, as the team went to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in 2017.
The Bridgestone Arena is located at the eastern end of downtown Nashville and is located just a few blocks north of the I-40 / I-24 interchange. There are exits available from each interstate to the arena and the routes are well marked. Game parking is available at one of the following public lots surrounding the area: Symphony Place, Avenue of the Arts, First Baptist Church of Nashville and the music City Center. The ride service Uber is widely available in the Nashville area.
There are many lodging options within walking distance of the arena and neighboring hot spots. These include the Hyatt Place, the Hilton Suites and the Renaissance Nashville.
Once at the arena you should not experience any access issues. There are many entry portals and there typically is not a line for entry. The concourses are wide and well planned, with concessions gathered into multiple food courts so they do not interfere with the flow of fans.
Return on Investment 4
The Predators have had some very successful seasons recently, including a run to the 2017 Stanley Cup Finals. This has resulted in a large increase in season ticket sales. Nashville is also a very popular spot for fans from opposing teams to attend games, as geographically it is not far from such NHL cities as Columbus, St. Louis and Chicago and is a great entertainment town. This means single game tickets almost always come from secondary ticket sources. Expect a minimum ticket price of at least $125. Parking on Predators game nights runs between $5 – $25 in the publicly owned lots surrounding the arena. Concessions at Bridgestone Arena are very reasonably priced. The greater Nashville area offers lodging at nearly every price point.
In addition to serving as the Predator’s home, the Bridgestone Arena has hosted the Country Music Association Awards, the SEC men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, several levels of the NCAA Basketball Tournament, and countless concerts by country music megastars such as Garth Brooks, Taylor Swift, Reba McIntyre, Faith Hill and Jason Aldean.
The tower attached to the arena serves as the Nashville Visitors Center, recording studios for the Sirius XM satellite radio network and also is home to the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.
Many people are curious about the origins of the Predators name and the use of the sabretooth tiger as its mascot. Back in the 1970’s, excavation in preparation for a new skyscraper blocks from the arena site revealed the skeleton of a sabretooth tiger from prehistoric times. The name Predator described where the tiger would have fit in the food chain at that time and its connotation for strength, as well as the fierce reputation of tigers, earned the top spot in a naming contest sponsored for Nashville residents.
In a uniquely Music City touch, the intermission periods feature mini-concerts by country music talent from the many music venues surrounding the arena. They perform from a bandstand behind one of the goals.
The Predators are extremely involved in the community. In addition to player visits to area schools and other facilities, they sponsor a Foundation to raise funds for area charities. They offer a pair of unique fan experiences for $100 donations. These experiences include riding the Zamboni in between periods and being able to sit in the penalty box during pregame warmups.
The Music City has proven that hockey can succeed in the South, as the Predators and Bridgestone Arena have steadily built a winning record on the ice. They have also built an extremely loyal fan base by creating a very positive fan experience. Both the team and its supporters were rewarded for their efforts with a trip to the 2017 Stanley Cup Finals. Like any predator, the team is once again back in the hunt.
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Nashville, TN 37219
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Latest Crowd Reviews
Every time I attend a Predators game at Bridgestone Arena, I wonder how it’s going to top the previous experience. I’m pleasantly surprised every game by how they keep finding new ways to keep the fans coming back. Winning on the ice obviously helps with that, but I’m certain that these fans will keep coming even if the Predators have a rough season. New ideas continue to be introduced to turn this into a massive party that’s more than just watching a hockey game. Hockey in Smashville is alive and well.