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Bridgestone Arena: 15 Years In 15 Days -- 2011

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

15 Years: Arena More Than A Venue For Concerts, Games

Today we look at how Bridgestone Arena serves the community, artists and athletes as more than just an event venue. While the building is known throughout the globe as a premier entertainment destination, Bridgestone Arena is a multi-faceted structure. There are more than 6,000 square feet of meeting spaces and companies have utilized the area for millions of their employees. The 13,500 square-foot rehearsal hall is used by many artists, including Taylor Swift and Brad Paisley. And the 22-story tower attached to Bridgestone Arena houses the Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau, where more than 500,000 tourists visit each year.

Dierks Bentley (Recording Artist) The Year In Review Did You Know In Their Own Words

Dierks Bentley
Dierks Bentley is a country music artist who has won multiple major awards. He also considers himself one of the biggest fans of the Nashville Predators.

2011 Year-In-Review at Bridgestone Arena

On Nov. 12, 2011, the Nashville Predators celebrated their 1,000th regular season game when they hosted the National Hockey League’s oldest club, the Montreal Canadiens. Leading the franchise for every one of those games – dating back to the franchise’s inaugural one on Oct. 10, 1998 – have been General Manager David Poile and Head Coach Barry Trotz. The night’s game was laced with festivities and video montages looking back on the team’s first 14 years of existence, in addition to what the future holds. Original Predators captain Tom Fitzgerald and goaltender Mike Dunham accompanied first-ever draft pick David Legwand in dropping the ceremonial puck with all of the club’s Game One employees joining them on the ice.

The Preds celebrated the franchise's 1,000th game on November 21

During April of 2011, Lady Gaga provided one of the most entertaining shows to play the Arena stage
Like her or loathe her, Lady Gaga is unquestionably the most popular female performer in pop music right now. And when she hit Music City on April 19, Downtown Nashville was taken over by her “little monsters” who came out in force to see her live. This Monster Ball Tour stop was part theatre, part spectacle and part concert. And it was just what the crowd of 15,469 at Bridgestone Arena wanted. Lady Gaga didn’t disappoint and played some of her biggest hits, including, “Just Dance,” “Born This Way,” “Poker Face,” and “Paparazzi.” The singer-songwriter showed why she is beloved by millions of people throughout the world, and why she was recently named as one of the most influential people in the world by Time magazine.
After 984 regular season games and 34 postseason contests, the Nashville Predators advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the first time on April 24, 2011, thanks to a 4-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks in Game Six of the teams’ Western Conference Quarterfinal series at Bridgestone Arena. The deafening sold-out crowd saw 22-year-old Nick Spaling score two goals, including the game-winner. Fan favorite Jordin Tootoo registered a pair of assists. And the first-ever pick in franchise history, David Legwand, sealed the deal with an empty netter. The series victory was set up less than 48 hours earlier in Game Five at the Honda Center where the Predators won their first playoff overtime game to take a 3-2 series lead. Captain Shea Weber tied the game at 3-3 with a long snap shot with just 35.3 seconds remaining before Jerred Smithson scored just 1:57 into overtime, stunning the Ducks, 4-3, and pushing the Predators to the brink of a playoff series victory for the first time in franchise history.

Captain Shea Weber led the Preds to the Second Round of the playoffs in 2011

There was a party attitude in the air during Jimmy Buffett's appearance at Bridgestone Arena in May 2011 
On May 28, 2011, fans of all ages descended on Bridgestone Arena to catch a concert by none other than Mr. “Margaritaville” himself, Jimmy Buffett. The downtown venue was transformed into a tropical paradise for a night when Buffett and his band brought their island-inspired tunes to thousands of Parrot Heads, the name given to Buffett aficionados. Buffett was joined on stage by country music star Kenny Chesney for several songs of a set that included classics such as “Margaritaville,” “Cheeseburger in Paradise” and “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes.” As an added bonus for the Parrot Heads in attendance, after the concert they could just step out the front door of Bridgestone Arena and cross the street to take in some post-game libations at the brand-new Margaritaville restaurant that opened on Broadway just months before the concert.
On the heels of the longest game in franchise history – a double-overtime thriller at Rogers Arena that saw Matt Halischuk score after more than 94 minutes of play to knot the Predators Western Conference Semifinal series with the Vancouver Canucks at 1-1 – the Predators returned to a “Sea of Gold” to play their first game in the calendar’s fifth month on May 3, 2011, at Bridgestone Arena. Though the Predators would fall to the Canucks by a 3-2 margin in overtime, the contest was accompanied by a buzz in the city of Nashville unseen before. Fans created a carnival atmosphere on the Bridgestone Arena plaza and in the streets of the Music City, then took their rowdiness inside, where decibel levels reached heights rarely seen before.

Fans travelled out to the airport to welcome the team home from Vancouver during the 2011 playoffs

Did You Know:

  • During the 2010-11 regular season and playoffs, the Nashville Predators sold out a franchise-record 22 games at Bridgestone Arena.
  • More than 18 million patrons have walked through the doors of Bridgestone Arena since it opened in 1996.
  • In 2011, from Jan. 1 – Sept 30, Bridgestone Arena was No. 12 in the world for concert attendance (and No. 4 in the United States).

In Their Own Words:

"My dearest memory has to be the end of Game Six of the playoffs against Anaheim last season. I remember looking all around the building and seeing the absolute glee on the faces of so many people who have been through so many other post-series handshake lines. This time, there was another series coming up. That’s what really sticks out. In addition to that, it has to be opening night on Oct. 10, 1998. There was a standing ovation for the faceoff. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a team’s history open that way."
   --Original Bridgestone Arena Employee, Pete Weber, Nashville Predators play-by-play announcer

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