Bridgestone Arena's star-studded stage awaits Stanley Cup Final
Predators superstar anthem singers help make Nashville's game atmosphere second to noneby Robby Stanley / NHL.com Correspondent
NASHVILLE -- The Nashville Predators have become recognized for their game presentation at Bridgestone Arena throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They'll try to improve upon that in their first trip to the Stanley Cup Final.
The Predators have worked to make their in-game experience as entertaining and engaging as possible. The result has been an environment as unique as there is in sports, starting with celebrities singing the national anthem throughout the postseason.
The list comprises a who's who of country music, including Carrie Underwood (who's married to Predators center Mike Fisher), Luke Bryan, Little Big Town, Vince Gill, Lady Antebellum, Keith Urban, Kelly Clarkson and Trisha Yearwood.
Nashville is known as "Music City." The Predators have embraced that and incorporated it into their game presentation.
"We're pretty fortunate to be sitting here in a city with so many incredible performers that want to be a part of this excitement," Predators president and CEO Sean Henry said Wednesday. "And the best part about most of them is, it's not their first game. It's not like they're taking a limo, getting off on the loading dock and we have to show them where the Zamboni tunnel is and they sing and they leave. It's just the opposite. They've been part of what we've been doing for a long, long time and are big fans and are here more often than they're not for our games.
"It's not about our selection. The hardest part is the coordination of their schedules. This is the prime touring schedule for so many people, and the sacrifices that some of those performers are making in returning to Nashville for one night and then going back out on tour is pretty humbling."
Video: Keith Urban on singing the anthem in Nashville
Playing in the Stanley Cup Final gives the Predators a chance to be on the biggest stage in hockey for the first time, which means the environment at Bridgestone Arena will be too.
"What's great about all of our games is they really are international displays of what Nashville is on an everyday standpoint, just from where our own players are from and the League's distribution around the globe," Henry said. "But this is different. It's bigger. You know what the story has been so far: The best experience in all of sports is in our building and it has been for many years.
"You take that up a notch with the performers we're bringing in, the fun we're having between periods, before the start of the game with the towel wavers, pump-up guys. The fact that the [Tennessee Titans] offensive line has completely adopted us, that on any given night you probably have three, four, five hundred different Grammy Awards, if you will, and you put them all in one place. That raises the factor here.
"Honestly, I sit back and think, 'How are we going to top that last game?' And I guarantee you we will. Part of it is just the stage that we're on, and we don't have to do a whole lot except get out of the way of our fans' passions because they make our game experience what it is. Our job is just to sprinkle a few extra things out there."