Nashville Predators: Bridgestone Arena has helped make Nashville what it is today

NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 02: A general view of the outside of the Bridgestone Arena prior to the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Finals on June 2, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 02: A general view of the outside of the Bridgestone Arena prior to the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Finals on June 2, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The Nashville Predators tweeted out a photo from 20 years ago of then Nashville Arena being built. What Nashville didn’t know is that the arena would help boost Nashville’s popularity to what it is today.

Some of you may remember when Nashville was just known for their country music. Well before there was a tv show about the city and before professional sports teams started calling Nashville their home. The rest of you may know Nashville as “Smashville,” the home of the Nashville Predators.

Regardless, Nashville has been one of the fastest growing cities in America over the past 20 years, and a photo released by the Predators on Twitter shows that’s the case.

This led some people to look back on some simpler times in Nashville when there wasn’t much of a skyline or traffic. It also led to people tweeting then and now photos of Nashville and bragging about the “glow up” Nashville has seen over the past 20 years.

Downtown is now thriving and is packed with locals and tourists every day of the week. Who knew all it would take was a couple of sports teams, a drama tv show, and the occasional country music concert to get Nashville to where it is today. But what exactly happened to make Nashville eventually become a hockey town and the most recent host of the NFL Draft?

In 1997, Nashville built what was then called Nashville Arena as an attempt to attract the NBA and NHL along with using the venue for concerts and other events. What they didn’t know was that the hockey team they would soon be getting would change the sports landscape in Nashville as we know it.

After Nashville Arena was built, the Houston Oilers’ official move to Nashville came in 1998, and their new home LP Field was built a year later in 1999 and just across the river from Nashville Arena.

In the Titans’ first season at LP Field, they went 13-3 and made it to the Super Bowl before falling short to the St. Louis Rams. This was the first time Nashville was showcased on this high of a level.

The 1990s were also when country music began to rise quicker than it ever has before in popularity. Alan Jackson and Garth Brooks led the way for Nashville’s finest as they popularized the life in the South and Nashville. The Dixie Chicks were also a huge part of making country music a global phenomenon in the ’90s.

The 2000s really changed the game for country music though when it comes to popularity. The likes of Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift, and Luke Bryan continued to popularize country music. The early 2000s were also pretty good for the Titans and Predators as they continued to build their national brand.

In 2003, the Predators won 38 games which was good enough for the Predators to clinch the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. The Predators fell to the Detroit Red Wings in the first round but this was just the beginning for Nashville appearing in playoff hockey in front of the world.

The Predators began to establish themselves as a playoff team every year since 2003, but they didn’t win their first series until 2010. With this win, Nashville was finally put on the map as an up and coming hockey team.

The Predators reached the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in franchise history in 2017. This led to the city of Nashville and the state of Tennessee to rally around the Predators and officially make Nashville a hockey town.

What we witnessed during the 2017 Predators playoff run was something I don’t think any of us could’ve imagined 20 years ago. An entire city, entire state rallied around the Predators.

Neighbors gathered around in their garage, thousands trekked to Broadway to watch the game, and many others were proudly cheering on the Predators inside the arena. The Predators asked Tennesseans to “Stand With Us,” and they not only stood they yelled and cheered with them too.

Nashville showed out during the 2017 playoff run, and they have since been rewarded for it. Since then, Nashville SC has joined the professional sports frame with an opportunity to join Major League soccer in 2018. They have taken advantage of that opportunity and will begin their inaugural season in 2020.

The NFL has rewarded Nashville as well with the 2019 NFL Draft. If you didn’t think Nashville was going to show out for this, then you are gravely mistaken. Hundreds of thousands of people gathered on Broadway and throughout Downtown Nashville to experience the draft.

Who would have guessed Nashville Arena would launch Nashville into the stratosphere and help build the sports landscape to what it is today. Not only did the arena help build Nashville sports, but they also gave the country music stars of Tennessee a proper venue to perform in.

Next. Titans receiver Anthony Ratliff-Williams is showing out in OTAs. dark

It has helped revitalize the downtown area. Additions like the Country Music Hall of Fame, Whiskey Row, and tons of little shops and places of entertainment have been built because of the popularity of Nashville Arena.

P.S. none of this could’ve happened without the fans so I couldn’t write this and exclude them. So if you are still reading this thank you for your support with the Predators and Nashville.