Hockey’s best are coming to Nashville.
At a press conference inside Bridgestone Arena’s Lexus Lounge on Friday morning, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced that the Nashville Predators will host to the 2016 NHL All-Star Game.
The Commissioner, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, CEO and President of Bridgestone Americas Gary Garfield, Predators Chairman and Governor Tom Cigarran and Predators CEO Jeff Cogen all spoke during the announcement, which was filled with multiple rounds of applause from an audience of appreciative and ecstatic Nashvillians. And for good reason.
“We’ve got great fans here [in Nashville], a great organization and strong ownership led by Tom Cigarran, but Nashville is a place that knows how to host big events,” Bettman said. “It’s now been designated as the ‘It City’ and I think [the NHL] being here is consistent with that.”
“This is going to be a signature event for this city,” Cigarran said. “People from all over the world come to watch the All-Star Weekend. It’s not just an All-Star Game, there’s all kinds of things that go with it. And when they come here and see the city, almost 100 percent of them will want to come back. It’s great for the city, and it says about our franchise, ‘This is a franchise the National Hockey League trusts with their signature event.’”
The game isn’t just something to look forward to for the hockey community in Middle Tennessee, but the city as a whole. Mayor Dean thanked the Commissioner, as well as Bridgestone Americas, for their continued support of the city that helped lead to today’s announcement.
“On behalf of everybody in Nashville, this is a big deal,” Dean said. “We’re deeply appreciative of this. The 2016 NHL All-Star game is another huge win for the city.”
“We’re going to put on an All-Star Weekend like no other city can,” Garfield said. “We’ve got so many resources in this city with the music industry and the atmosphere downtown; it’s going to be tremendous.”
Country music legend Vince Gill represents just one partnership between Nashville’s hockey and music communities, and the long-time Predators season-ticket holder can’t wait to see the city in action when that weekend rolls into town.
“It’s another opportunity for this city to be seen in a light that it has never been seen in,” Gill said. “Most people would argue that when you think of Nashville, you think strictly of music… This city has always been so much more than that. This team has been here for 15 years and like the mayor calls us, we are the ‘It City.’ We are on fire and a lot of great things are happening because of him and a great city full of people who are willing to try and put this city’s best foot forward.”
Cogen is one of those in charge of making sure that the NHL made the right decision. He has no lack of confidence that they have.
“For us it’s about culture, it’s about legacy and financial elements,” Cogen said. “You throw those all into a mix and it’s priceless. I think this is going to make Nashville a better hockey city, making it a more ‘It City.’”
The folks who call Nashville home and continue to fill Bridgestone Arena night after night already know that this city has “It.” Now it’s time for hockey’s best to see that too.
“It’s going to be impressive,” Cigarran said. “We’re going to make sure that people have never seen anything on an All-Star Weekend like they’ll see when they come to Nashville in 2016.”