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Bridgestone Arena: 15 Years In 15 Days -- 2001

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

15 Years: Real Estate Development Explodes Around The Arena

Today we look at the positive impact Bridgestone Arena and the Predators have had on downtown development. Since the arena opened in 1996, other builders followed suit and quickly erected structures nearby. The Hilton Hotel was constructed directly next door, and the Country Music Hall of Fame moved from Music Row to Bridgestone Arena’s footprint. Now, the Music City Center – a massive convention center – is being built just steps from the arena’s entrance. As Lower Broadway has expanded, it has spawned new construction projects blistering across neighboring areas like The Gulch, SoBro, Germantown, and East Nashville.

Shirley Zeitlin (Realtor) The Year In Review Did You Know In Their Own Words

Shirley Zeitlin, Realtor
Shirley Zeitlin is the founder and CEO of Zeitlin Realtors, a premier real estate broker in the Nashville/Middle Tennessee region for over thirty years.

2001 Year-In-Review at Bridgestone Arena

The 2001 SEC Men's Basketball Tournament took place in Nashville at Bridgestone Arena from March 8-11. Nashville was featured on a national stage as the first, quarterfinal, and semifinal rounds were televised by Raycom/LF Sports, and the SEC Championship Game (Ole Miss 55 – Kentucky 77) was televised by CBS. Thousands of SEC fans descended on Nashville, bringing in millions of dollars of revenue for the city. This was the first time the SEC had chosen Nashville as its destination and it wouldn’t be the last. The tournament returned in 2006 and 2010 (SEC Men’s Basketball), and the SEC Women’s Tournament was played at the arena in 2002, 2004, 2008 and 2011. The SEC Gymnastics Championships was also held at Bridgestone Arena in 2009. The SEC will also make stops in Nashville in 2012 and 2014, for the SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament and the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament, respectively.
"March Maddness" returned to Bridgestone Arena in 2001 when the SEC Tournament came to town

Rock legends AC/DC had the arena shaking during their March tour stop
Preds mascot GNASH is known to be something of a trickster. Whether it’s deceiving an opposing team’s fans into taking a face full of pie or turning the San Jose Sharks mascot into sushi, GNASH makes an example of those who oppose him. The saber-toothed mascot has made such a habit of his trickery that his shenanigans even have a theme song: “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC. Considered to be pioneers of heavy metal, AC/DC has been rocking venues from clubs to arenas since the band formed in 1973, and has several hits that span generations of rock n’ roll enthusiasts. Classics such as “You Shook Me All Night Long,” “Back in Black” and “Highway to Hell” were just a few of the tunes the band performed for a packed house at Bridgestone Arena when the group made a March stop in Nashville during their 2001 “Stiff Upper Lip Tour.” For those who are wondering, the band also played “Thunderstruck” that night – much to the delight of one certain anthropomorphic tiger with a history of hijinks.
A little more than a month after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, country music showed its patriotism and empathy at the Freedom Concert, held at Bridgestone Arena on October 21, 2001. The nationally-televised telethon raised money on behalf of the Salvation Army and featured several country music stars, like Clint Black, Alan Jackson, Martina McBride, Brooks & Dunn and Sara Evans. Performers belted out their most patriotic tunes and worked to raise the spirits of the American people. The concert was broadcast commercial free over Country Music Television and more than 700 radio stations worldwide. All money raised went towards easing the pain of the September 11 attacks.

Country Music Superstars came together in a patriotic display at Bridgestone Arena in the wake of the 9/11 attacks
Paul Kariya was one of the many Preds stars to don the "Mustard Uni" during its five year tenure in the team's wardrobe.
On Nov. 21, 2001, the Predators changed their look for the first time in team history, unveiling an alternate jersey at Bridgestone Arena prior to a game against the Chicago Blackhawks. The mustard jersey – both revered and reviled by fans around the league for its eye-catching design – featured an animated saber-toothed tiger logo on the crest and a pair of tiger skulls on the shoulders. In the five years the mustard jersey was in use, the Predators put up a 38-19-12 record while donning the brightly-colored sweaters – including a blistering 21-3-2 mark in the last two seasons of its existence. Though the jersey hasn’t been seen since before the 2007-08 season, when the league-instated RBK Edge jerseys were implemented, it set a precedent with its lively design and paved the way for its popular big brother, the bold Predators Gold jerseys, to debut in 2011.
On the surface, it appeared to be just another early December game, but on Dec. 6, 2001 – in their 271st game – the Nashville Predators recorded the 100th victory in franchise history with a 4-2 rout of the Ottawa Senators. With the win, Nashville became the second-fastest expansion team of the 1990s to reach the 100-win plateau. Andy Delmore led the offensive attack for the Predators, scoring a pair of power-play goals as the team finished a robust 3-6 with the man advantage. Greg Johnson opened the scoring just 77 seconds in with his 100th NHL goal, and Vladimir Orszagh also scored on the power play. Mike Dunham earned Second Star honors by stopping 28 shots as Nashville returned from a four-game West Coast trip to win its then-team-record sixth in a row on Bridgestone Arena ice.
Greg Johnson triggered Nashville's 100th franchise win with the game's opening goal against the Ottawa Senators on Dec. 6, 2001

Did You Know:

  • Bloomberg Businessweek recently ranked the Predators No. 1 as the “Smartest Spenders” in all of professional sports.
  • Andrew Brunette scored the Preds' first goal at Bridgestone Arena at 5:12 of the first period against the Carolina Hurricanes on October 13, 1998. Nashville went 9-7-2 at home during the 1998 calendar year.
  • Tim McGraw played an annual New Year's Eve Concert at the arena the first four years the building was open.

In Their Own Words:

"In my first days, I parked in the garage without a door and entered doors without locks. Hard hats were still more common than baseball caps and there was an excitement in the air over the anticipation of the building’s opening. The staff was like family that pulled together to welcome the community to our home. Opening night was magical – snow flurries floated through the search lights placed on the plaza as guests filtered in for the Amy Grant Tennessee Christmas event. When Amy Grant had the audience shake their keys to jingle for one of the holiday songs, you were taken to a different place."
   --Original Bridgestone Arena Employee, Britt Kincheloe, Director, Corporate Development Service for Nashville Predators

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