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Bridgestone Arena Countdown to 20 Years: 1997

The U.S. Figure Skating Championships Come to Town and the Arena Begins its First Full Year

by Nashville Predators @PredsNHL / NashvillePredators.com

Known as Nashville Arena upon its inception, Bridgestone Arena's 1993 mission statement was "to provide a state-of-the-art facility that can maximize utilization by hosting a full spectrum of events appealing to all constituencies in the Nashville area. The arena should help stimulate growth and enhance development in downtown Nashville, provide an attractive venue for entertainment, sports and learning, instill a renewed sense of pride in the city, and serve as a landmark for the image and reputation of Nashville as a premier place to live, visit, work and enjoy."

Twenty years later, the building has helped stimulate growth more than those who developed the arena could have ever imagined. Not only is Bridgestone Arena one of the top-five venues in the nation for entertainment, it's home to one of the NHL's top Stanley Cup contenders.

The building will celebrate its 20th Anniversary this year during a matchup against the New York Rangers on Saturday, December 17, taking place two decades after its opening event, Amy Grant's memorable concerts on December 16 and 17, 1996. Since that first iconic concert run all the way through today, more than 20 million fans have visited Bridgestone Arena to watch history unfold and to create lasting memories.

Leading up to the 20th anniversary celebration, NashvillePredators.com will take a look back at the greatest moments in Arena history, year-by-year, continuing today with the year 1997.

Although there would be many more to come, in February of 1997, the U.S. Figure Skating Championship became the very first sporting event to take place in Bridgestone Arena. 

As a result of Wisconsin businessman Craig Leipold's presentation before the NHL, a conditional franchise was granted and after months of hard work, the Nashville Predators were officially born in November.

The Arena Football League's Nashville Kats kicked off their inaugural season at Bridgestone Arena in May and remained an arena staple through 2007.

Disney on Ice took the stage on April 9 to become the arena's longest continually running annual event.

Remember When: 1997

Billboard Hot 100 Top Song: "Candle In The Wind/Something About The Way You Look Tonight" - Elton John

Top Grossing Movie: Titanic

Top Rated TV Show: Seinfeld

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