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Bridgestone Arena (map it)
Nashville, TN 37203
Year Opened: 1996
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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.
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".
The arena does a great job of offering various selections of local favorites and standard cuisine that you might not find at most sports venues, conversely pushing the envelope a little bit more than other cities. The gloriously delicious "hot" chicken is a city favorite and worth trying. It is fried chicken that has been spiced with cayenne hot sauce and served with pickles and toast. Whitt's BBQ, another area favorite, has barbecue nachos - a heaping of pulled pork on top of chips with barbecue sauce and cheese. There is a nod to local brands that include Yazoo Brewery, Hunt Brothers Pizza, Christie's Cookies and the chocolate, caramel, marshmallow and peanut concoction called the Goo Goo Cluster.
If your tastes are a little bit refined, please visit the Food Network stand that features slow-roasted pork sandwiches, ricotta herb meatball subs and Buffalo mac and cheese. Or enjoy Asian stir fry and chicken and waffle sandwiches if you like.
There are also brats, hot dogs, grilled burgers and French fries to purchase and at reasonable prices. Wash them all down with a $9 beer from either a local or national brewery and you have some wonderful eats inside Bridgestone Arena. The prices are standard for stadia food, but the Food Network options are somewhat higher at $9 a sandwich. However, they are worth tasting once (or even twice) a visit.
The atmosphere is that of one big party, complete with flippy cup games, cheering, mingling, and plenty of eating and drinking. The arena was packed during my most recent visit with fans from both sides competing against one another with their war chants throughout the game. I was shocked by what I saw, since I was a little naďve about hockey in this city.
The biggest surprise was the Fan Zone in the upper 300 section that, as team ownership states, connects the fans to the action in the stands from the concourse. They might be right, because the area was one big social networking extravaganza. It is the only area in the building where you can watch the game from the concourse and what a marvelous view it is. If I was a single male or out with a group of friends, this is where I would be for every game. However, no matter where you watch the game, there is sure to be someone to talk to. I also enjoyed the simplicity of the arena itself; it is a modern building with an old soul, one that should stick out nicely in the coming years.
When in Nashville, visiting Broadway instantaneously reminds you why it is called The Music City. Small hole-in-the-wall bars, old record shops and music stores litter the street with live music and a flood of tourists taking pictures under the iconic neon sign of Robert's Western World.
After the games, the street is blocked off to fans pouring out of the arena. Jack's BBQ features long lines for their smoked brisket, chicken and pulled pork. Some say it is the best in the city, but it is a tad bit pricy for the portions you receive. My favorite hole-in-the-wall bar is Tootsie's, with plenty of music and space in the back for great conversations over various bottles of beers.
Merchant's Restaurant and Grill offers decadent duck fat tater tots and sweet tea pork loin. If you want a kid friendly environment, Gabby's Burgers and Fries is just the place for the family. Beware, this is a tourist destination and prices may be higher than other parts of the city.
You may also head a half a mile down the road to enjoy a multitude of taps at The Flying Saucer, rent a bike and ride along the Cumberland River, visit the Country Music Hall of Fame or, if arrival is on a Saturday, visit the Farmers' Market on Rosa Parks Drive. Pick a pound of smoked bacon or locally made ghost pepper salsa from the Farmers' Market and you'll take some Nashville happiness home with you.
If you were to drive outside the arena, one might think they were in Chicago with the copious Hawks' jerseys during my most recent visit, but once inside the Predators' bright yellow jerseys were just as impressive in numbers. Whenever the opposing team chanted, it was quickly drowned out by the hometown faithful. The Predators did their very best to quell any tensions and the two sides were very respectful toward one another. In the NHL, a lot of teams travel well with their fans, and according to a long-time Preds fan named Stephan Ridley, Chicago is on the list with a few other franchises.
"We draw well when Detroit, St. Louis, Columbus and Vancouver are in town. When we take a lead against Detroit, this place becomes loud and difficult to play in. We hate Detroit, because they are good and we want to beat them."
Ridley also added that St. Louis and Montreal fans become bitter after losses and sometimes become somewhat rowdy. If you can go toe to toe with the league's best, then you have some pretty good fans in Nashville.
A few Chicago fans pointed out to me that there were very few Nashville jerseys downtown after the game. Just a theory, but the arena is in a tourist area and perhaps most Predator fans are heading home or away from the area. Like folks in Las Vegas who stay away from the strip and Orlando natives who would not be caught dead in Disney World.
Bridgestone Arena is on the corner of Broadway and 5th Ave and cannot be missed. It is in the heart of downtown and minutes off the I-40 and I-24 exit ramps. There is a parking deck adjacent to the arena, but there are also numerous parking lots and garages throughout the vicinity that average around $5-$10. It's a bargain, compared to other downtown metropolis areas across North America. If you are lucky, you may find street parking, but for the price, you may just want to save some time and park it in the garage.
I am not a fan of overpriced and expensive hockey tickets. I hate the fact that I cannot sit in the upper levels of an arena for under $20. However, it is a new age and when your city supports hockey; the tickets will be on the higher side. As with many other hockey towns, the tickets for Predators' game can range on the higher side of the spectrum. The tickets in the upper bowl start at $21 and lower level tickets begin around the low $60 range, but on game day or against rival teams, those tickets can quickly shoot up in price.
The organization has created ways to help reduce the cost that includes Twice Daily Super Tuesday (two tickets for $55 in the upper and $105 in the lower bowl), Thursday College Nights ($15 for upper and $30 for lower bowl seating with a college ID), Family Four Packs ($124 for four tickets and food) and military night ($15 for upper and $30 for lower bowl seating with military ID). However, when your tickets are selling out at premium prices, then the team must be succeeding in creating a demand in their tickets. I will say again, that I loathe paying $64 for an upper bowl seat, but unless you scalp them or take advantage of one of the organization's deals, be prepared to pay a little more at the ticket window.
The location of the arena to the bars in downtown (literally steps away), the traffic stopped by the police to allow pedestrians to walk on the road after the games, and for the Predators being strong enough to adapt yellow sweaters as their primary colors.
Attending a Predators' game is a welcome surprise, and will smash any assumptions fans may have that this is not a hockey city. I certainly was wrong and shame on me for thinking such utter nonsense. If you listen to the national media on your FM or AM dial, you might have subscribed to such propaganda. Yes, Nashville is a southern city, but it is a hockey town and good one at that. When the Predators hoist the Stanley Cup, I am not sure, but they will certainly have a few thousand friends at the party.
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 entrĂ©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.
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Nashville, TN 37203