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Past Decade Sees Bridgestone Arena Become One of World's Best

Home of the Predators, World-Class Concerts Contributes to Growth of Nashville Over Past 10 Years

by Brooks Bratten @brooksbratten / Senior Communications & Content Coordinator

Over the past 10 years, the Nashville Predators have seen on and off-ice success that many franchises only picture in their dreams.

Their home, Bridgestone Arena, also had itself quite a decade.

With just a handful of moments left until the calendar switches to 2020 and brings about another 3,650 or so days worth of hockey, concerts, events and accomplishments, it's worth a look back at the impactful role the building has played in the growth of this hockey club, and this city, in the 2010's.

"We used to do 40-some non-hockey events a year, and now we're up to 70 to 100 non-hockey events a year," Predators and Bridgestone Arena Senior Vice President of Entertainment and Marketing David Kells said. "The fans are coming out and supporting those events, and the touring folks go where they know they can be successful. So that's a wonderful reflection on how [our staff works to make this place the best it can be]. I say all the time, nobody comes to Bridgestone Arena on a day when we don't have something. We're just four walls and some seats until the athletes or the performers or whoever it might be, take the stage or take the ice to create a great memory for people."

Countless amounts of those moments have taken place in the last 10 years in the form of Garth Brooks concerts, SEC Championship Basketball matchups, three games of the Stanley Cup Final and so many more.

With those moments also come recognitions, and Bridgestone Arena has earned plenty of accolades along the way. A finalist for the Pollstar Arena of the Year for 13 consecutive years, the facility took home the top prize in 2014 and 2017, and Kells himself was also named Venue Executive of the Year in 2017 in the midst of seven-career nominations.

In 2019 alone, the Predators and Bridgestone Arena created an economic impact of $676 million from their home at 501 Broadway, and as the second-to-last week of the decade arrived, word came of two more honors.

Not only did the arena earn a Top 10 spot in Pollstar's top U.S. venues with show and concert ticket sales by hosting 40 sold-out shows in 2019, but Sports Business Journal announced Monday that the city of Nashville was selected as the Best Sports City in the U.S. for 2019.

Impressive, yes, but also, just another day in Smashville.

Video: Arena goes from hockey to concert to rodeo

"The music culture and community in Nashville, we're a place that people want to play," Kells said. "Just like the athletes want to be in the playoffs and do big things in big moments, performers want to play big shows in front of their peers and their community. Selling out Bridgestone Arena means something to people, and it's wonderful to see that.

"People love an arena or a venue because of the times that they have there. And the fact that you have 20 years worth of great times and great memories, that just adds to everybody's personal experience."

Kells has seen everything that's come through the building over the past decade, and it wasn't long into 2010 when Nashville experienced an unprecedented flood that affected the arena. Water inundated the event level and forced repairs throughout the Predators locker room and backstage dressing rooms, among other areas.

The first show at the arena after the water had receded featured James Taylor and Carole King. It was a moment Kells will never forget.

"Those folks came out and said, 'Thank you to the fans for coming out,'" Kells recalled. "They said they realized that the community had been through a lot, and that they were happy to be there for the community. I thought was amazing. The way everybody in the arena pulled together, the way we cleaned up things we made it safe for the fans to come in, we made it safe for the folks backstage to operate, and two weeks after a major flood downtown, we were back up and operating. That was an amazing one, for sure."

So many more moments followed, each one with their own unique impact on the building and the over 17,000 - and sometimes more - fans who chose to spend their hard-earned money and valuable time within the four walls, if only for a few hours.

If people didn't know about Nashville back in 2010, they're probably aware now. The Predators and Bridgestone Arena have plenty to do with that, and as this decade prepares to roll out, a new one is just a few days away.

Only time will tell how this city, this team and this building will change during that period, but if the last 10 years is any indication, there's plenty to look forward to - on the ice and off.

"We just want to keep adding to that history, adding to those great experiences," Kells said. "I don't have to be a super fan of the performer who's on the stage that night, but when you see the lights go down and people start screaming and having a good time, that's the payoff. We get a payoff every single night. It's another chance to create great memories for people, and that's fun. That's why we're here."

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