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Bridgestone Arena Countdown to 20 Years: 1998

The Preds Play Their First Game in Franchise History and Stars Continue to Perform at the Arena

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, starting today with the year 1996.

1998 was a star-studded year for Bridgestone Arena as acts including Garth Brooks, Celine Dion, Elton John and Eric Clapton took the stage. The three-night Brooks run served as the arena's fastest sellout until he broke his own record in 2010 within the first four hours of ticket sales.

On October 10, the Predators kicked off their inaugural season against the Florida Panthers in their very first home game with a sellout crowd of 17,283. It was on this day that the unique "Fang Finger" taunt made its debut as well.

Andrew Brunette scored the Preds' first goal at Bridgestone Arena at 5:12 of the first period against the Carolina Hurricanes on October 13.

Remember When: 1998

Billboard Hot 100 Top Song: "Too Close" -Next

Top Grossing Movie: Saving Private Ryan

Top Rated TV Show: ER

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