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Bridgestone Arena: 15 Years In 15 Days -- 2004

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

15 Years: An Arena's Evolution To National Prominence

Today we look at the growth of Bridgestone Arena from its early years to the premier venue it is today, and one that is respected throughout the world. On Dec. 18, 1996, the building hosted Amy Grant’s Tennessee Christmas, which was the building’s first official show. Since then, more than 18 million people have walked through the doors of Bridgestone Arena. The facility has grown to show its ability to hold dozens of sold-out Nashville Predators games as well as countless highly-complicated concerts. The ability to host a wide range of events brings millions of people – and dollars – to Downtown Nashville.

Amy Grant (Singer) The Year In Review Did You Know In Their Own Words

Amy Grant
Amy Grant is a 6-time Grammy Award winner. The singer/songwriter and Nashville resident performed Bridgestone Arena’s first show.

2004 Year-In-Review at Bridgestone Arena

By 2004, it had been well established that Bridgestone Arena could easily handle sold-out Predators games and big-name concerts. But the building added another feather in its cap from June 2-5 when it hosted the U.S. Gymnastics Championships. The world’s eyes were on Nashville in this Olympic year. In front of a packed crowd in Music City, Paul Hamm finished first in the combined all-around standings. He would go on to win the gold medal in the individual all-around competition at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. On the women’s side in Nashville, Courtney Kupets won the individual all-around competition, and Carly Patterson came in second. Patterson, however, would go on to win gold in the individual all-around competition at the 2004 Summer Olympics.
The U.S. Gymnastics Championships at Bridgestone Arena was a harbinger of Olympic success for both the American women and men

Art Garfunkel & Paul Simon brought their timeless show to Bridgestone Arena in 2004
A pair of legends took the stage at Bridgestone Arena in 2004 for a remarkable show that has gone down in the building’s lore. Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel performed 24 songs that evening, including legendary hits "The Sound of Silence," "Mrs. Robinson," Bridge Over Troubled Water," "Homeward Bound" and "A Hazy Shade of Winter." That same year, Simon and Garfunkel came in at No. 40 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 greatest artists of all time. The duo also received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004. It was a memorable year for the legendary pairing, and a memorable night for those in attendance at Bridgestone Arena.
The feud between megastar rapper Jay-Z and R&B singer R. Kelly are well documented. But before their disagreements, fans from throughout the state and beyond got a rare chance to see them perform together when the Best of Both Worlds Tour came to Bridgestone Arena on Oct. 10, 2004. Jay-Z had already emerged as one of the most popular rap stars in history, while R. Kelly’s star was beginning to fade due to troubles with the law. Still, the duo put on a mesmerizing show in Music City, which included a high-tech intro where two vehicles broke through a fake wall on the stage. After more legal problems cropped up on R. Kelly’s side, the tour went into turmoil. Forty shows were scheduled but only 24 were performed. And Nashville was one of them, much to the joy of those at Bridgestone Arena that night.

Two of the biggest names in the hip-hop and R&B world shared the Arena spotlight on October 10, 2004
The "King of Country" dazzled a capacity crowd at Bridgestone Arena in February 2004
George Strait is known as the “King of Country,” and he gave Nashville fans a night fit for royalty. Strait, who has sold more than 68 million albums in the United States, played to a sold-out crowd of 17,850 at Bridgestone Arena on Feb. 7, 2004. An extra treat was his opening act, a young and talented Dierks Bentley. According to Billboard Magazine, Strait’s concert at Bridgestone Arena grossed $1.03 million, the second-largest grossing tour date of the month for any artist. It should be noted that Strait’s concert in Oklahoma City was first ($1.1 million). His Nashville show outperformed individual concerts by Bette Midler, Rod Stewart, David Bowie, and Jimmy Buffett at other arenas.
The Preds were winning and Bridgestone Arena was rocking. On April 7, 2004, Nashville goalie Tomas Vokoun was spectacular and stopped 41 shots. Adam Hall scored the game-winning goal with just 15 seconds left in the first period as the Preds knocked off the rival Detroit Red Wings, 3-1, to claim the first playoff victory in franchise history. The Predators were outshot 42-21, but Vokoun was masterful, stopping 22 shots in the third period alone. David Legwand got the scoring started with a shorthanded goal at 18:23 of the opening frame, and Scott Hartnell added an insurance marker at 16:03 of the third. The victory paved the way for another just two nights later, tying the best-of-seven series at 2-2 heading back to the Motor City.
Tomas Vokoun was the star of the night as the Preds picked up their first-ever playoff win on April 7, 2004

Did You Know:

  • The Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau is housed in the 22-story tower at Bridgestone Arena, and it is visited by more than 550,000 tourists each year.
  • Bridgestone Arena is more than a venue for concerts and sports. It features more than 6,000 square feet of meeting room space and a 13,500-square-foot rehearsal hall.
  • Beyond Nashville Predators hockey games, Bridgestone Arena has played host to 303 other sporting events, including the U.S. National Championships for both Gymnastics (2004) and Figure Skating (1997).

In Their Own Words:

"A long time ago, traveling shows would come to the outskirts of your town and set up tents, staging, concessions and lighting. It may have been a collection of oddities or music or theatre. Fast forward to the center of Downtown Nashville today. The essence of those traveling shows is alive and well. Even though stagecraft, sound, lights and video have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, it’s always exciting to see Bridgestone Arena transform from one show to another. The traveling concept is the same. Bring your stage, band, monster truck, hockey team, football players, elephants, tigers, cowboys, high school graduations or whatever you can throw at us and we’ll transform this one million square foot building into a little bit of magic."
   --Original Preds Employee, Blake Grant, Senior Director of Event Presentation

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