One year ago today, Olympic Gold Medal-winning figure skater Scott Hamilton stood on the stage outside Ford Ice Center for the facility’s ribbon cutting and asked the crowd in front of him, “Is this awesome or what?!”
Little did Hamilton, then-Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, Predators defenseman Seth Jones, country music Hall-of-Famer Vince Gill and the hundreds of fans in attendance that night know that what they thought was awesome then, was only going to get more so over the course of Ford Ice Center’s first year.
“It’s been a fantastic whirlwind of a first year at Ford Ice Center,” Ford Ice Center General Manager Danny Butler said. “We couldn’t have done of what we’ve been able to do here without the incredible support of the city, the team and all of the people who consistently come out and make Ford Ice Center their home.”
Over the last 365 days, Ford Ice Center has quickly risen to distinction around the southeast, successfully hosting dozens of regional hockey tournaments and ice skating competitions, and regularly hosting American Collegiate Hockey Association games through Vanderbilt, Middle Tennessee State, Trevecca and the University of the South, all of which call the Center home.
The distinction hasn’t remained in the southeast alone, as national trade publications have recognized the building for its design and positive environmental impact.
Ford Ice Center was chosen by RINK Magazine, a nationwide hockey and ice skating rink trade publication, as their “Featured Rink,” for November/December 2014 and credited both Ford Ice Center and the Nashville Predators for continuing to help the growth and development of hockey and figure skating in the southeast. In February, Ford Ice Center received LEED Gold certification from the United States Green Building Council – a recognition that a building must meet certain prerequisites for energy and environmental design to receive.
Most recently, the American Buildings Company named Ford Ice Center the winner of their 2015 Excellence in Design Competition. The Excellence in Design award focuses on ways that metal buildings can meet various construction needs, regardless of size or complexity.
On three occasions in the last year, the Nashville Predators have made appearances at Ford Ice Center. First, on opening weekend, hosting the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers for the 2014 Nashville Predators Rookie Tournament, in January for an open team practice (which was attended by more than 1,000 Preds fans) and for the third time in July when the facility hosted the final scrimmage of the 2015 Nashville Predators Prospect Development Camp.
These special events come in addition to Ford Ice Center’s regularly scheduled programming, which has not only been successful, but grown and flourished this year.
140 – Birthday celebrations hosted in the party rooms (with nearly 1,500 attendees).
483 – Youth hockey participants over the course of three seasons (fall 2014, winter 2015, spring 2015).
900 – Figure skaters who participated in freestyle ice time.
1,007 – Learn to Skate participants.
1,200 – Hours of private ice rentals (high school practices/games, tournaments, etc.).
1,435 – Adults who have played in three seasons of Ford Ice Center’s Adult Hockey League.
60,000+ – Skaters who have participated in public skate sessions.
Beyond the regional recognition, the national awards and the successful numbers is perhaps the most important of all of Ford Ice Center’s first-year numbers – the $88,000 that has been donated by the Nashville Predators and Ford Ice Center to help grow hockey in Middle Tennessee. Through the facility’s first year, $50,000 has been donated in free public skates, $10,000 in hockey and Learn to Skate scholarships and $28,000 in ice time, equipment and coaches cost.
This money is proof that the mission the Preds and the City of Nashville set to meet when they first broke ground on Ford Ice Center – to help continue the growth of hockey and skating in Middle Tennessee and ensure that all kids, regardless of background or experience, have the opportunity to get on the ice – is well on its way to fruition.