Hockey has always been known as a northern sport, and rightfully so. With that being said, brewing in the south is a brand of hockey unlike anything you will see in most of the NHL.
Situated directly in the center of all the downtown action in Nashville is Bridgestone Arena, considered one of the busiest arenas in the world. It ranks in terms of ticket sales in the same range as Madison Square Garden, Barclays Center, and AmericanAirlines Arena. The main draw, however, is obviously the Nashville Predators.
The NHL is full of pristine venues to serve as stages for its franchises, and the Predators enjoy one of the best in the league. It may be over two decades old, but you don’t get any sense of its age when you’re inside, or outside for that matter. It has the look and the feel of a brand-new facility.
It’s nice to see the loyal and diehard Predator fans enjoy a beautiful arena to watch their team 41 regular season games a year, and hopefully more in the playoffs. You can make a solid argument that the excellent fan experience that is delivered is a major reason why hockey has turned out to be a wild success in the Music City.
Cleverly entitled “Smashville,” hockey here is a must-see for the sports fan.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
By far one of the most vast collection of food options seen at a hockey venue, there is literally something for everyone. You should plan on having that fun little debate about what to eat if you're with the family. There are so many choices, and all of the concession areas have their own themes.
Most of your food options are in the lower concourse area. To start this off with a bang, stop by the grilled cheese stand in the lower concourse. They make it in front of you, and who doesn't like a grilled cheese? These range from $6 to $8 and are well worth the price. Basic stadium food like pizza slices from Hunt Brother's Pizza for $5.75, chicken tenders and fries for $10, and hot dog and fries for $8 are also available. Bottomless popcorn and soda is available for $8.
Puckett's Grocery is a famous restaurant in Nashville that serves Southern style food. Grab a brisket sandwich for $9.50 or BBQ nachos for $10. They offer their own variety of food at the arena, including a chicken and waffle sandwich for $9. Also from Puckett's you can get a mashed potato bowl for $9.25, country biscuits for $3, or a waffle ice cream split topped with Fireball cinnamon whiskey for $7. Important to note that all of the portions are generous, making the prices very fair.
Hot chicken has exploded into a popular food option for locals and tourists alike, and Bridgestone Arena offers a Nashville hot chicken sandwich for $12. It seems like a high price tag, but again, it's well worth it. Just remember, it's not for the faint of heart.
There's a sleek sports bar lounge in the lower concourse called Barrel House. If you want to get away from your seats for a bit and enjoy some cocktails or local craft beer, this is your spot. Don't worry, you won't miss any of the game as there are several televisions.
To wrap this section up, Bridgestone Arena has an assortment of cocktail options. Most basic liquor drinks will cost you $10. Tall beers in cans or draft are $9. Plenty of non-alcoholic options like energy drinks, bottled water, and Gatorade are for purchase. There's even a Twice Daily convenience store to load up on snacks and bottled sodas.
This part of the experience has continued to get better and better over the years. You aren't just attending a hockey game when coming here, you're attending a party with a guest list of over 15,000 screaming fans. Even the most casual of hockey fans, or even sports fans in general, have a great time attending a game here.
Like you would expect, music is a big deal in Nashville, and you get that at a Predators game. The adrenaline is kept at epic proportions through heavy rock music played during breaks in the action. It keeps the energy up and caters to the intensity of the game.
Fans also get involved with the music by voting for songs to be played through social media. Easily the best song of the night to set the tone is AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" to introduce the team skating onto the ice. You don't have to be a Predators fan to get pumped when this occurs. During intermissions, there is a stage situated on the middle concourse for live music.
Several times throughout the game you'll hear the organ player Krazy Kyle play tunes and get fans excited. He was introduced a few seasons ago and has emerged as a fan favorite. Even Paul the PA announcer gets love from the fans. Everyone thanks him when he announces that there's one minute remaining in the period.
The Bud Light Fan Zone is located on the upper concourse next to section 320. It caters to the fan that wants to post up somewhere and have a perfect view of the action. On most nights, you can expect to wait your turn to find a good viewing spot. The area has become a very popular spot for the younger crowd. There are several other lounge areas scattered throughout the arena if you don't want to be cramped in your seat for the duration of the game.
There are loads of contests and games for the fans to interact with, and they're usually pretty original. The air guitar contest has become a popular one as they stick two fans in wigs and fans choose who played the air guitar the best. In-depth keys to the game are covered prior to the opening faceoff, delivered by the local Predators crew. The video board over center ice constantly has NHL score updates and stats from the game.
You can't leave out Predators mascot Gnash who stays busy throughout the night. He's constantly interacting with fans and makes his grand appearance by propelling from the rafters down to the ice. He's not your ordinary sports mascot with his outlandish behavior.
Downtown sports arenas and stadiums are all the rage now. Franchises are doing everything they can to develop the areas around their venues to get fans to flock to their games. Luckily for the Predators, they have downtown Nashville's tourist district right at their doorstep, literally.
All of Nashville's famous honky tonks are right outside the exits of the arena. There's so much live music flowing down the sidewalks of Broadway that you'll have trouble deciding where to go first. It makes the pregame and postgame festivities very convenient. If you haven't been to Nashville recently, your first spot should be the Music City Diner. It's six floors and located just a few blocks from the arena. It has an oyster bar on the rooftop, a second-floor sports lounge, and at a diner that is open 24/7 on the bottom level.
Puckett's Grocery is a massively popular stop for both locals and tourists. The food is Southern-style brisket, pork and other comfort food. Live music is also played in the evenings, but book a reservation for Puckett's, located off Church Street, if you want to get a spot here.
Of course, you have to check out the classic Broadway destinations like Tootsie's Famous Orchid Lounge, Legend's Corner, and The Stage. Don't be shy to utilize Lyft and Uber so you can check out all of Nashville's other neighborhoods that have their own personalities. Areas like the Gulch, Midtown, and East Nashville are all worth exploring and are short drives from the arena.
There's plenty to do for first time visitors that will require a few days to see it all. The Country Music Hall of Fame sits right next to the arena, along with the Music City Convention Center.
There are several upscale hotel choices, with the closest one being the Hilton right next to the arena. Other top choices include Hotel Indigo, Omni Nashville Hotel and the Renaissance Nashville Hotel. These are all steep in price, so you will have to travel a little outside of downtown to find cheaper lodging.
Most hockey fans are overflowing with passion, but Predators fans take it to a new level. Many of these loyal fans have been attending since their inaugural season in 1998-1999. They've grown with this team and learned to appreciate the actual sport. These fans are easy to spot, and they're not shy about coming up with their unique chants. Be advise that they're not always family friendly.
The infamous chants that most opposing fan bases have come to know about the Predators is the "You Suck" chant. It's chanted after every Predators goal, and 90 percent of the fans in attendance participate. Again, it's not for everyone and might rub some people the wrong way. However, it's not going anywhere and it gives the fans a unique identity.
Heckling the opposing goalie is also taken to a new level. After enemy goaltender surrenders a goal, the fans mercilessly chant his last name a few times then blast him with a "You Suck!" Cleverly, they follow that up with a chant of "It's all your fault!"
Over the years these fans have become a lot more knowledgeable about the game itself. They don't just cheer for fights and goals. They recognize solid puck movement, smart poke checks and a strong penalty kill. You can also expect a very dejected and demoralized fan base when they lose. They don't take it lightly, and that's respectable.
The Predators players regularly call the Nashville fans the best in the league, and I honestly think they mean it. They feed off this crowd and enjoy a strong support system that several NHL teams simply don't have right now.
Parking is the biggest issue with Predators games, but finding Bridgestone Arena is as simple as it gets. It's directly on Broadway and easily stands out. As for the parking, there are plenty of lots and garages but you have to be willing to pay upwards of $15 to $20 in most cases. However, there are other parking options if you don't mind making a hike. To avoid the high parking prices, you can utilize Nissan Stadium's parking on the other side of the Cumberland River. You can park in Lot R for free on most occasions and make the 15-minute stroll across the pedestrian walking bridge. There's also meter parking scattered throughout the area that is free after 6 PM, just in time for most games.
If you'd rather have the security of a parking garage, the closest one is on 6th Avenue. As Nashville isn't large enough for a mass public transit system, Lyft and Uber will be your best options for navigating through the city if your hotel isn't within walking distance.
The two main concourses are wide enough for even the biggest of crowds, so you don't have to worry about too much congestion. Sections are effectively marked to make finding your seat a breeze. The main escalator really helps with this as it takes you to the club level and the upper levels. I must say that the seating areas can get very cramped, not much leg or arm room.
The main entrance to Bridgestone Arena is on the corner of Broadway and 5th Avenue. Even on nights that are sellouts, the foot traffic normally moves swiftly through this main entrance. The other main entry point is located on Demonbreun Street.
You really have to empty your wallet to get the full experience at Bridgestone Arena. With the growing success and popularity of the team, ticket prices have steadily increased, but well below the league average.
Upper level tickets on average will range from $30 to $50, depending on the opponent. You can find some major bargains through the numerous promotions that the team runs throughout the season. Lower level seating will sometimes approach $100, but most of the time falls around $75.
With the great food that's offered at the arena comes the steep prices. It's not cheap to have a few beers and enjoy some of the awesome food. However, these items are worth the price if you have the money to spend.
You're not being poached of your hard-earned money when coming here. You get what you pay for by enjoying an energizing experience and a playoff-caliber hockey team. Just understand that you won't get everything that Bridgestone Arena has to offer if you're going on a tight budget.
I'm handing out a couple extra points for the overall energy that the fans bring. They don't just simply cheer for when the team scores a goal. They bring a level of creativity to it with their chants and engagement. You feel like you're at a soccer game, and we all know how some of those diehard fans can be. The "Let's Go Predators" chant begins on cue within the first five seconds of every game. Sometimes it only takes on random guy in the upper level to get the whole arena chanting. That's how the Predators fans are, and they come full-throttle nearly every game.
An extra point goes to Gnash, the Predators mascot. Unique mascots are sometimes hard to come by, but Gnash gives you everything you can want in a mascot with all of his stunts and crazy antics.
A final extra point goes to the players and how they salute the fans after every home win by skating to mid ice and lifting their sticks. The team does an excellent job of always tossing the respect back to the fans, and that keeps them coming back on a consistent basis.
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.
Many critics said hockey couldn't survive in the South back in 1998 when the Nashville Predators joined the NHL, but the great Predators fans have proven them wrong.
When you attend a hockey game at Bridgestone Arena, you get a unique NHL game experience.
When Bridgestone Arena is at a packed house of just over 17,000, there are few places louder or more intimidating in the NHL. It gives the Predators a valuable home-ice advantage that some teams aren't lucky enough to enjoy.
Bridgestone Arena is a multi-use facility that is home to the Nashville Predators, and is located in the heart of downtown Nashville on Broadway at Fifth Avenue. The arena was completed in 1996. The Predators began play in the arena in 1998, their inaugural season.
The arena is versatile in its configuration, with a seating capacity of 17,113 for hockey and 20, 000 for concerts and basketball. Additionally, the arena has a 5,145 seat Music Theater that provides an intimate venue for plays and smaller concerts. The arena also boasts an acoustically designed rehearsal hall below the main arena level where touring acts can perform a full concert rehearsal. The arena was designed with excellent acoustics on the main level, and the arena has been designed in such a way as to bring the upper level seats as close to the main floor as possible without compromising comfort or safety. Sight lines are good at all levels.
In addition to hockey, the arena hosts numerous concerts and events throughout the year, from top country and rock acts to the Ringling Brothers Circus and various Country Music Association events. The arena has also been home to the NCAA Men's Southeast Region first round games on five different occasions as well as hosting the conference tournaments in basketball for both the SEC and Ohio Valley Conference men and women.
Visitors to the arena enter off Broadway or Demonbreun St. and step into the main concourse. The wide concourse allows for ease of movement around the main level of the arena, and features a main pro shop and several smaller pro shops that sell Predator merchandise. There are numerous concession stands around the arena, with the fare typical of most arenas such as hamburgers, subs, hot dogs, pizza, and chicken fingers. The main concourse has numerous kiosks that vend a limited number of domestic beers as well as two full service bars that offer domestic beer, several imports, wine, and mixed drinks. Prices are not out of the ordinary for food, ranging from $4-6 for most items. A 24 oz. domestic beer is $8.50. The same amenities are also located on the upper level of the arena.
The arena also offers 72 private suites that include a private restroom in each; a 42 " flat panel television; access to the Suite Level Club for premium dining; and concierge service, to name a few of the amenities. There is an all inclusive "Fan Zone" in the attack twice end of the arena that provides the ticket holder with a lower bowl seat, a fully catered buffet with carving station, and unlimited soft drinks, wine, and domestic beer.
Bridgestone Arena is designed to provide a great entertainment venue, both from a spectator's perspective and from the total fan experience, and it exceeds expectations on both counts.
As mentioned, the arena is located in the heart of downtown at 5th Ave. and Broadway. This is a prime spot for both tourists and locals to come for good music and nightlife. Diagonally across the street from the arena, at 422 Broadway, is Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, a world renowned venue for country music and the place from which many stars, such as Kris Kristofferson, Patsy Cline, and Waylon Jennings got their start. You don't go to Tootsie's for the food, you go for the music, the cold beer, and the history. This is a must see spot for first timers to Nashville, and it is not uncommon to see members of visiting hockey teams in Tootsie's the night before a game.
At the other end of the spectrum is the Palm Restaurant, located across the street from the arena at 140 Fifth Ave. The Palm is part of the national chain of high end steak houses, and it is not uncommon to run into coaches from the Predators as well as the visiting team in the Palm. The food at the Palm is excellent, and their specialty is steak and exceptional customer service. Expect to spend $30-50 per diner on the meal, depending on the entrÃ©e selected. All other menu items are a la carte, and portions are usually enough for two people. Desserts are exceptional, and there is an extensive selection of wines and a full bar. The size of the tab at the Palm can go up rapidly depending on the amount of wine consumed with dinner, but in moderation, it is not unreasonable.
Bridgestone Arena opened in 1996 as the Nashville Arena and has been the home to the National Hockey League’s Nashville Predators since their inception in 1998. The 17,113 seat arena stands in the heart of downtown and features an iconic phalanx symbol that would have made the citizens of Pompeii blush. The Predators have been attracting 17,092 fans a game during the 2012-2013 season, turning a city known for its country music into a genuine hockey town.
After a failed attempt to bring the New Jersey Devils to the Music City, the NHL granted Nashville an expansion team to begin play in 1998. More than 15 years later there are still detractors who believe that hockey does not belong in the Volunteer State. The Predators have had a bit of a tumultuous existence, from ownership changes and issues, to the possibility of moving to Hamilton, Ontario. With some success on the ice and a blossoming rivalry with the Detroit Red Wings, the Nashville Predators are proving that they do belong in the NHL and that Nashville can support a team as well as any other city.
Bigger than being a great spot for NHL hockey, Nashville is rapidly becoming one of the top vacation spots in the country. There are a ton of things to do and a trip to see the Predators fits right in with the rest of your activities. "Smashville," as their current ad campaign dubs them, will not disappoint.
My wife and I just returned from a Devils/Predators game. I'll say this, even though my beloved Devils lost, I had a wonderful time. The fans are passionate about their Preds! They were loud and proud and showed up in full force, especially against a down team like my Devils. When NJ tied the game, the Preds fans didn't slink down in their chairs. They got behind their team and used their voices to spur them on. The food was alright, but I wasn't there for the food. The ambience was outstanding. The pre-game performances by the mascots and "ice rink girls" (Sorry, I don't know the correct term for them) were top notch. You could tell the management go out of their way to give the fans (home and visiting team) an experience that they won't soon forget. The surrounding neighborhood wasn't bad. There was music being played loud and everyone was having a good time.
The Nashville Predators have a ticket policy that discriminates against Chicago Black Hawk fans. They will not sell a ticket to someone "outside of their market area" but they only apply this rule to Black Hawk games at Bridgestone arena. They actually check your address on your credit card or ask for ID to ascertain if you are from the Windy City area. I have never heard of a franchise, especially one in a public facility, being able to blatantly practice discrimination. If this were based on race or religion, it would be on the Justice Department's radar in a second.
I saw a game here on 2/5/16. Great sight lines and wide concourses.
One of the best downtown locations for a stadium in the big four pro sports.
My ticket was in Section 303 by accident which is their cheering section.
This venue is great for concerts.
You’ll find a perfect example of critics being proven wrong when you witness a hockey game at Bridgestone Arena, home to the NHL’s Nashville Predators. It was completed in 1996, and was Nashville’s first major sports arena, far surpassing the Nashville Municipal Auditorium which was the main sports venue for the city at the time.
Who could’ve blamed the naysayers back in the mid-90’s for being weary of NHL hockey being supported in a mid-sized market with no professional franchises in the four major sports leagues? The South is widely considered a hotbed for college football, or football in general, but there was a lot of skepticism regarding Nashville supporting a professional hockey team nearly two decades ago.
Since the Predators’ inaugural season in 1998, hockey’s popularity in Nashville has steadily grown into one of the most popular things to do for locals and visiting tourists. The fan experience is of epic proportions, turning it into more than just simply attending a sporting event and cheering for your favorite team. It’s a big reason why the 2016 NHL All-Star was a huge success in Nashville.
Hockey is clearly here to stay in what fans cleverly call “Smashville.” The home-ice advantage that the Predators enjoy has to be near tops in the league, and sellouts have become a regular occurrence.
If you haven’t marked off your stadium bucket list a trip to Bridgestone Arena, then it’s time you changed that quickly to see for yourself one of the most exciting and unique experiences in hockey.
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