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Bridgestone Arena: 15 Years In 15 Days -- 2002

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

15 Years: A Bold Idea Continues To Positively Impact Nashville

Today we explore how the idea of one man helped transform Downtown Nashville from a mostly downtrodden area to a premier destination. Before he was the Governor of Tennessee, Phil Bredesen was the forward-thinking mayor of Nashville. He took political risk by promoting his idea of a downtown arena, and then worked through some public resistance to complete the project. As everyone now knows, Bridgestone Arena has made a massive positive economic impact on Nashville and has created jobs. The building has also been the centerpiece in promoting Music City on a global stage.

Phil Bredesen (former Mayor & Governor) The Year In Review Did You Know In Their Own Words

Phil Bredesen
Phil Bredesen was the Mayor of Nashville when the arena was built and the Governor of Tennessee during eight of the arena's first 15 years in operation.

2002 Year-In-Review at Bridgestone Arena

If Alan Jackson never records another song, he will still go down as one of the genre’s most successful and talented singer/songwriters. He’s had 35 songs become No. 1 hits, won two Grammy Awards and claimed 16 CMA Awards. And on Nov. 15, he treated his fans to a remarkable concert at Bridgestone Arena. His timeless hits were mixed throughout the set list, but for those who were on hand, one song still sticks out. The year before at the CMA Awards, Jackson debuted the song, ‘Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning,” a song he wrote shortly after the 9/11 attacks. When he performed the song at his Bridgestone Arena event, it still evoked emotion considering the one-year anniversary had recently passed.

Alan Jackson's timeless performance the fall of 2002 still ranks among the most impressive concerts in Arena history.

Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones awed the Bridgestone Arena crowd in 2002.
The list of bands that span half a century is sure to be a short one. The list of rock ‘n’ roll bands over that same amount of time is sure to be even shorter. But with 50 years of hits under their belt, it’s a distinction that legendary rock outfit the Rolling Stones can lay claim to. Even back in 2002, with just a mere 40 years of repertoire to pull from, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and the rest of the Stones rocked a sold out Bridgestone Arena for two solid hours. At the time, Jagger was just a year away from 60, but he still performed like a man in his prime, spending the full 120 minutes jumping, dancing and belting out some of the band’s most famous tunes. The sold-out crowd was treated to a 21-song set that featured some of the band’s greatest hits, including “Start Me Up,” “Gimmie Shelter,” “Brown Sugar” and an electric, explosive encore of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.”
The SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament was held at Bridgestone Arena on Feb. 2, and it was the first of many to come. But the 2002 event still holds a special spot in the hearts of Vanderbilt fans. Led by Chantelle Anderson’s 18 points, the Commodores defeated LSU 63-48 in the championship game for Vanderbilt’s first title since 1995. And despite there being plenty of orange-clad UT fans in the arena, the Lady Vols were upset by LSU in the semifinals. Bridgestone Arena pulled out all the stops, catering to every whim and need from school and league officials, to players and media. The fan program featured an overhead photo of the arena at night, which depicted a bustling downtown. The event was such a hit that the SEC Women’s Tournament would again be held at Bridgestone Arena in 2004 and 2008. It will return in 2011 and 2012. And in 2014, the NCAA Final Four for women’s basketball will be held at Bridgestone Arena.

Hometown Vanderbilt claimed the 2002 SEC Women's Basketball Tournament, the first time the conference's Women's Tourney was hosted at the Arena.
The "Goddess of Pop" didn't disappoint during her 2002 Farewell Tour. 
With an Oscar, an Emmy, a Grammy, three Golden Globes and a Cannes Film Festival Award to her name, there isn’t much the “Goddess of Pop” hasn’t accomplished in her storied career. Looking as youthful as she did when she began her career in the 1960s, Cher gave Nashville a show for the ages when she played Bridgestone Arena on November 13, 2002, in the fourth U.S. leg of her Farewell Tour. Cher pulled out all the stops in a show that featured agile dancers, intricate lighting, giant video screens, a multitude of costume changes, stunts straight out of Cirque du Soleil, incredible production and even a ride-able, life-size papier-mâché elephant. With this one-of-a-kind production, the legendary singer went out with a bang, proving that the pseudonym “Goddess of Pop” was more than just a clever nickname.
It was a big event, but for Kenny Chesney, it was a snap. Chesney headlined a New Year’s Eve show at a sold-out Bridgestone Arena and proved why he was well on his way to superstardom. Earlier that year, Chesney’s album “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem” dominated the music scene and debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard chart. It featured megahits “Young” and “The Good Stuff.” The songs were performed during the New Year’s Eve show, prompting The Tennessean to describe Chesney’s performance as “absolutely entertaining.” Also performing that night were Montgomery Gentry and Keith Urban.

Kenny Chesney rang in the new year with his fans at Bridgestone Arena.

Did You Know:

  • Each year, the Nashville Predators and Bridgestone Arena spend an average of $2 million to promote events. The money goes back into the local economy in the form of TV/radio spots, print and internet campaigns, outdoor billboards and the use of printing/graphics and post production facilities.
  • In the 2010-11 season, the total attendance for Preds games at Bridgestone Arena was 661,861. It was the largest total since 1999-2000.
  • For each Preds game, 45 pucks are frozen at 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Refs stash 15 pucks per period in a freezer located near the scorekeeper at center ice. Freezing pucks reduces their bouncing, making them easier to control.

In Their Own Words:

"Anniversaries always bring out memories and the 15th anniversary of Bridgestone Arena is no different. I’m most reminded of so many ‘I was there’ moments that our community has witnessed. Who will ever forget so many Predators’ first, from the first game to the first playoff game to the first playoff series win? And now there is the Nashville tradition of the spontaneous standing ovations during timeouts. SEC and NCAA basketball tournaments presented great moments in the arena, but also an unmatched atmosphere and energy on the plaza and in surrounding downtown restaurants and bars.”
   --Original Bridgestone Arena Employee, Gerry Helper, Senior VP of Hockey Communications

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