Two summers ago, floodwaters ravaged the Nashville area. The city received over 13 inches of rain on May 1 and 2, 2010, and the Cumberland River crested at almost 12 feet above flood stage. Downtown businesses and buildings closest to the river were flooded, Bridgestone Arena among them.
Water levels rose to as high as a foot on the lowest level of the Predators’ home arena, ruining locker room carpets, valuable equipment and anything else within reach.
“You wouldn’t think that little water would do that much damage, but the problem was it was raw sewage,” says Pete Rogers, head equipment manager for the Predators for 14 years.
While the flood brought obvious headaches, the Predators organization decided to use the opportunity to expand and renovate its locker room complex.
“We didn’t just come up with this overnight,” Rogers says. “It had been kind of a work in progress a year before, but this just sped it up. The flood sped it up. I remember we met on May 5 or 6. ‘OK, what are we going to do?’ It was [head coach] Barry [Trotz], myself, the architect flew in, [and arena director of operations] Terry McConnell, and then we kind of came up with a game plan. We have an opportunity. We all put our heads together.”
The group had two to three weeks to make decisions, according to Rogers, then they had to monitor the progress over the course of the summer. When the work was completed—most of it by early October, the expanded weight room by late December—the Predators organization had what Rogers considers a much more functional space that better reflects and accommodates the organization’s growth.
But it wasn’t an easy road to get there. Rogers came to the arena during the flooding with a rented truck and a crew of five ready to move the contents of the team’s large equipment supply room to an off-site location. But when he arrived, he found the room’s door kicked in and everything in disarray. The reason is still a mystery to Rogers.
“This was far and away the worst part of what happened,” Rogers says in the organized supply room, which is now about four feet wider after renovations. “This took hours and hours and hours of manpower. All the different shirt sizes, blade sizes, and everything is labeled in bins. This was what I was the maddest about of the entire flood. Years of trying to be organized was just thrown on the floor in a pile. So we had to sort through it, take what we could.”
Just down the hall, another storage room proved to be the key piece to the redesign puzzle. The spacious area had been used by arena staff for storage, but building management converted it into a temporary base for flood reconstruction before ultimately turning it over to the Predators.
“Without getting any space we were kind of limited in what we could do,” Rogers says. “The building [management] was nice enough to give us that supply room across the hall, which opened up a new world.”
That allowed the Predators to construct a top-notch workout facility in the new space. Strength and conditioning coach David Good says he’s been told by a number of trainers from visiting NHL teams that it’s one of the best in the league.
The old weight room’s move across the hall led to the creation of larger work areas for the equipment managers and trainers; a theater-style video room for player meetings; a player lounge with couches, computer stations and a kitchen area; and dedicated office spaces for all of the team’s coaches.
Along the way, the team made several enhancements ranging from small details—like stainless steel bench covers in the locker room stalls—to a significant upgrade of the video technology throughout the complex.
“We had just hired [team video coach] Lawrence Feloney and for me he was a godsend because he took over doing the TVs, the video, the phone lines,” Rogers says. “I was so overwhelmed with trying to take care of the insurance claims and meet with the architect.”
“I don’t want to say it took the flood to [upgrade the technology], because I think him coming in, being a younger guy, he would have pushed to make those changes. Because in today’s NHL you need the ability to do what he does for the coaches to be able to pre-scout opponents.”
The new spatial arrangement has several practical benefits for the Predators, like reducing the amount of time a player has to miss when he needs a skate sharpened during the game. For Rogers and his equipment staff, there’s also a more convenient supply area with sticks and jerseys, plus a new spot for players to cut and shape their sticks.
“We kind of wanted to get them out of the hallway, because all the interviews take place out there,” Rogers says. “With everybody cutting and hacking it wasn’t real cooperative.”
Ultimately, the flood precipitated some needed facility changes for the Predators, allowing the team to expand from a limiting space to a modern, functional locker room complex.
“It was a bad summer,” says Rogers, “but everybody is really happy with the way it came out.”