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Bridgestone Arena: 15 Years In 15 Days -- 1999

by Staff Writer / Nashville Predators
This is the third installment of a 15-day series that will celebrate Bridgestone Arena’s 15th anniversary on Dec. 17, 2011.

15 Years: Giving Nashville A National Identity

Today we look at how Bridgestone Arena served as a catalyst to make Nashville a highly respected sports town that can now compete with any North American city. The arena’s driving force has been the Predators, who dozens of times each year demonstrate Bridgestone Arena’s ability to showcase a major sports franchise. The building has also been able to draw big-time college basketball events, preseason NBA games, and national championships in Olympic sports. Those events are often broadcast on national television, allowing Nashville to show all it has to offer.

Scott Ramsey (Nashville Sports Council) The Year In Review Did You Know In Their Own Words

Scott Ramsey, Nashville Sports Council
Scott Ramsey is the President and CEO of the Nashville Sports Council.

1999 Year-In-Review at Bridgestone Arena

On a January evening in 1999, Bridgestone Arena was transformed from a mild-mannered Southern sports and entertainment venue into something slightly more diabolical. With KISS touring the world promoting their latest album, they made a stop in Nashville and turned the arena into their own dark spectacle. “The Psycho Circus Tour” was the first of its kind: 3-D. In addition to the customary stage makeup and unique costuming, the “Psycho Circus Tour” featured a myriad of visual delights, 3-D effects and an extensive demonstration of pyrotechnics. It’s safe to say that the 12,000 people in attendance at that evening’s event hadn’t seen anything like it before and might not have seen anything like it since.

Kiss rocked out on the arena stage in January 1999

NSYNC packed Bridgestone Arena during the spring of '99
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, you had to be living under a rock if you hadn’t heard of the ‘boy band’ phenomena. For many teenage girls during that time period, there was only one question that needed to be asked in order for a friendship to solidify or dissolve. That penultimate question was none other than: “Backstreet Boys or NSYNC?” In March of 1999, NSYNC devotees came out victorious when Justin Timberlake and the boys made a Nashville stop on their North American “NSYNC in Concert” tour. Fans across the continent came out in droves as the tour was nominated for "Best New Artist Tour" by Pollstar Concert Industry Awards. It also became one of the biggest tours in 1999, earning more than $50 million dollars in revenue.
On New Year's Eve 1999, country music superstar Tim McGraw hosted his Annual New Year's Eve Blast live from Bridgestone Arena. It was the fourth and final time McGraw hosted the show at the arena and he co-headlined the event with his wife and fellow country music superstar Faith Hill. Hill performed a full-length set for the audience and joined her husband onstage for the ball drop. Additional guests that night included Jessica Andrews and The Clark Family Experience. This final New Year’s Blast was featured on telecasts across the country, with McGraw, Hill and friends helping ring in the new millennium live from the Music City.

Downtown rang in the New Year with Tim McGraw
David Legwand is the only player to skate for the Preds in every season of the franchise's existence. 
Though the Predators fell to the New Jersey Devils by a 4-1 score in the final game of their inaugural season on April 17, 1999, the game marked the beginning of era as an 18-year-old David Legwand – Nashville's first-ever draft selection – made his NHL debut in front of a sold-out crowd of 17,298. Fresh off an 80-point season with the Ontario Hockey League’s Plymouth Whalers, the Detroit native signed with Nashville on April 16, then logged 12:50 the following evening in his first big league contest. Since then, Legwand has become the franchise’s all-time leader in – among other categories – points, goals, assists and game-winning goals. Legwand is also poised to become the first player to don the Pred Head for 800 games during the 2011 Holiday Season.
In the summer of 1999, Bridgestone Arena hosted the 33rd Annual TNN Music City Awards. With his self-proclaimed redneck repertoire, Southern comedian Jeff Foxworthy hosted the event, which featured performances by Faith Hill, Vince Gill, Alan Jackson and Sawyer Brown. Country music power couple Tim McGraw and Faith Hill were big winners on the night, taking home awards in six categories. Neal McCoy won the top fan-voted award, Entertainer of the Year, for the second year in a row, with fans selecting him over Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, George Strait and Shania Twain. The Dixie Chicks were named best vocal band and Female Star of Tomorrow. Brooks and Dunn took home their fourth trophy for best vocal duo, and Michael Peterson was named Male Star of Tomorrow.

Country Music's royalty flocked to Bridgestone Arena for the 1999 TNN Music City Awards Show.

Did You Know:

  • The Nashville Sports Council hosted the 2001, 2006 and 2010 SEC Men’s Basketball Tournaments at Bridgestone Arena. The three events produced nearly $41 million in cumulative economic impact for Nashville and millions of national television viewers.
  • The 2010 SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament at Bridgestone Arena delivered an $18.4 million economic impact and the overall tournament attendance was 191,852.
  • Bridgestone Arena has hosted 19 major award shows including the CMA Music Awards, CMT Award Show and Dove Awards.

In Their Own Words:

"Downtown Nashville has reinvented itself over the years, and I believe the arena was the catalyst for this particular phase of growth. It’s been an exciting time to be downtown. In 1998, there were parking lots surrounding the arena. Parking was never an issue. Soon though, the sounds and rumblings of dynamite started and haven’t really stopped. First, the SunTrust building next to the Ryman went up. I couldn’t understand how the stained glass windows stayed put with all the blasting going on. Next, the Hilton Hotel and Country Music Hall of Fame materialized, and currently the City Center is emerging. When a 1,000,000 square-foot arena shakes, your eyes tend to open just a little more widely.”
   --Original Bridgestone Arena Employee, Susan Charnley, Director of Payroll for Nashville Predators/Bridgestone Arena

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