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Official Review by Eric Taylor, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Named for Michael Curb, the man behind the little company (Curb Records) that has produced music for guys like Tim McGraw and other multi-platinum selling artists, the Curb Event Center is a fantastic multi-purpose facility with Belmont Bruins as its main tenant. Even in its "teenage" years, Curb Event Center remains a state-of-the-art facility that has been a very capable host of graduations, concerts, speaker series events (Dr. Maya Angelou was a keynote speaker in 2011) and awards shows like the CMT Music Awards. Belmont hoops has long been a college basketball staple in the Nashville area since its days playing in the NAIA. The Bruins' popularity and following increased ten-fold after a near upset of 2-seed Duke (lost 71-70) in the first round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament.
The overwhelming majority of recognition and success the program has experienced can be traced back to one name -- head coach Rick Byrd. Long before Jeff Fisher and Barry Trotz ushered professional sports into Music City with the Titans and Predators, respectively, Nashville had the likes of Belmont’s Byrd and Lipscomb’s Don Meyer. The win totals of the two coaches, the heated rivalry -- as well as the short distance between the two schools -- can only be matched by Coack K at Duke and Dean Smith at North Carolina.
Byrd has been at the helm since 1986 with opportunities to leave for “better” jobs, but he has invested his energy in making Belmont a contender for the NCAA tournament every year and has seen a great return on investment.
Nashville is a great place to spot celebrities and musicians, whether you are at a concert, a sporting event or the grocery store, and provides the opportunity to see a random musician or celebrity (a friend texted me as I drove to Curb Event Center that he just bumped carts with a member of the Black Keys and his family at Harris Teeter). The only thing Nashville loves more than seeing a celebrity/musician is acting like it’s no big deal when said celebrity is spotted. Music City folks take pride in their ability to grant a celebrity its status as a normal civilian trying to enjoy a night out. It’s one of many reasons these celebrities choose to call Nashville home. Curb Event Center enjoys its own celebrity that’s just “another fan.”
Vince Gill attends as many Belmont (and Nashville Predators) games as his schedule allows. With that being said, there are as many people in this area that see Vince Gill as a Bruin alum with a great sense of humor that loves to play golf as much as they see him as a Hall of Fame musician.
When Gill is in the crowd, he sits very close to the floor and is very vocal. It’s a safe assumption that more than one referee has snapped a Vince Gill compact disc or two in half after officiating a game with Gill in attendance. Gill is just a reflection of the other fans in the Curb Event Center. The fans are loud, somewhat creative (as would be expected by a school known for music), and loyal. There is certainly a decided home court advantage when the Bruins take the floor.
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".
What the concessions portion of the experience lacks in convenience, it more than makes up for in selection and quality. While many of the concession tables, kiosks and stands are small and very close in proximity of one another, the crowding becomes an issue rather quickly, especially at halftime.
The menu of in-game edibles includes a Chick-fil-A table, Papa John's Pizza, Leslie's Fun Food (caramel corn, cotton candy). Hot chocolate and coffee are also available, so you have zero excuse for experiencing hunger or drowsiness.
The Curb Event Center is a fantastic venue in which to watch hoops. The fans are top notch, the concourses are fantastic and the banners hanging from the rafters provide a Reader's Digest version of the historical success the Bruins have enjoyed over the past 30 years.
Part of a great sports experience is feeling like you are part of something that is bigger than yourself. The best method to achieve this is to remind fans of the history that occurred before tonight and to include this night's game within the narrative of said history. Belmont does this without flaw.
Is there a better neighborhood for college basketball in the Southeast? It's just a few blocks from famed Music Row while being within walking distance to trendy eating and drinking establishments.
You will impress everyone at home with the list of places you visited, because each of the establishments is void of the chain and franchise virus.
Pick from a few of these and then add even more once you arrive, because you'll be OMG'ing the moment you arrive.
Kalamatas, International Market and Restaurant (Thai), Bongo Java, PM, Blvd, Jam Coffee House, Fido, Cabana, Hot & Cold and Pancake Pantry (this place has pancakes) are just a handful of the options you'll have available.
The fans are great. The key ingredient to creating great fan chemistry is a healthy mix of current students and seasoned alumni/local sidewalk fans. The students possess the energy to stand and scream the entire game, while the fans with a little more experience under their belt can pick their spots to let the referee know of yet another error they feel he's made against the home team. The veteran fans are also extremely knowledgeable about the game of basketball. That potion is what creates the magic at the Curb.
Parking garages always make for easy access to a game, and it's like winning the lottery when that garage is free and attached to the event's venue.
The only negative regarding a parking garage is the potential for gridlock while trying to exit the facility when attending a game on a night that a ton of fans may be in attendance. I don't like leaving games early for the sake of beating traffic, and even in the event of a game with high attendance, you shouldn't have to wait too long to get out of the garage once the game is over.
The concessions and restrooms are very easy to access once in the arena, and your seats are easy to find. If you do happen to get a bit turned around trying to find your section, there will be someone there to help. It may be an employee or it may be someone just wanting to help. You're in Nashville. Hospitality is a God-given trait.
Tickets are very affordable. Prices will vary, depending on what game you attend. Concession prices are fair and parking is free.
Basically, you will not feel overwhelmed at the expense and underwhelmed by the experience. That's all we can ask for as sports fans.
Vince Gill talking smack to the opposition is always a bonus for those fans that know Gill as the guy who sings at a very high pitch in a song they have heard at every funeral attended since the mid-1990s ("Go Rest High On That Mountain").
Plain and simple -- there are 200 establishments and entertainment options available in Nashville, but catching the Bruins at the Curb Event Center during basketball season needs to be part of your experience. Sure, the Titans and Predators capture more national headlines, but if you want to see what built the foundation for professional teams to succeed in this city, catch a Battle of the Boulevard (Belmont vs. Lipscomb) early in the season.
Don't fret, however. You won't be expected to throw away your tourist-identifying belt buckle and cowboy hat when you visit. You just need to grab a Belmont shirt as well before heading home. That's a souvenir that screams Nashville no matter where you wear it.
Member Review by MikeStunson
When you walk into Belmont University's Curb Event Center you definitely feel like you are about to watch a basketball game, and not a concert. The unique feel of the arena gives the Bruins the home court advantage that has seen them acquire a lot of recent success. It opened in the 2003-2004 season, and since then they have had the most home wins of any team in the Atlantic Sun Conference.
The Curb Event Center arena has 5,000 permanent seats in an oval configuration, but the arena is used for a lot more than just sporting events. The 2006 CMT Video Music awards were held there, as well as a 2008 Presidential debate.
Located just a few miles from the heart of downtown Nashville, the Curb Event Center gives students and fans a chance to see a competitive Bruins team play, with being able to enjoy the Nashville
night-life right after.
Member Review by Fishy112 on Mar 23, 2011
I've enjoyed nearly every single Belmont Bruins Men's Basketball game in the CEC. The arena is one of the best mid-major facilities in the country. Plus, our home winning percentage is such that you almost always enjoy watching us WIN!
Go Bruins! Grrrr...
Member Review by MattMetsker on Jul 25, 2013
The Curb Event Center is great! Whether you are watching the six-time conference champion Belmont Bruins men's basketball team crushing their opposition or watching some of Belmont's talented student-musicians perform in a showcase there is not a bad seat in the house! The Maddox Grand Atrium provides a scenic welcome to all fans as they enter the arena and the Vince Gill Room located inside the arena allows rich donors of Belmont with an beautiful area to wine and dine (minus the wine part because Belmont is a dry campus) during the game. Belmont's amazing sports marketing team brings in a variety of entertainers, such as the Zooperstars or a trampoline dunk team, to keep fans interest during halftime. Single-game tickets are available for only $10 and parking is free, there simply is not a better deal in town! There are some great restaurants across the street on Belmont Boulevard, Hillsboro Village is within walking distance, and Downtown Nashville is a short drive away, so it's in a great neighborhood! I would say that the worst thing about the Curb Event Center is the limited food selection, but that's the fault of Sodexo, not anyone affiliated with Belmont. I'd recommend eating somewhere nearby before or after the game, like Chago's Cantina or P.M. on Belmont Boulevard. Additionally, the fan support is not as consistent as it should be for a program that has proven itself to be one of the nation's premier mid-major teams year in and year out. The students of Belmont need to realize that they most likely aren't going to get rich by strumming their acoustic guitars all day long and the residents of Nashville need to learn that their is more to college sports than SEC football! If you're in Nashville and haven't checked out a Belmont basketball game, then you are really missing out on one of the greatest sports experiences that the city has to offer!
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