I have been to Nashville three times in the last year. During all three of those trips, I managed to make my way to a Nashville Predators game. Hockey may not be what imagine when you think of Nashville, but if you want a unique and fun experience during your time in the music city, here are 5 reasons why you should see a hockey game during your trip.
- The location
The Nashville Predators play at Bridgestone Arena, and the location is absolutely perfect. When you go to Nashville, you will certainly spending some time roaming the streets of Broadway (you know, the one with all the neon lights, and dive bars like Tootsies). The arena is located right on Broadway; it is impossible to miss. There are plenty of other attractions, like The Country Music Hall of Fame or Ryman Auditorium, within a 5-10 minute walk. On game nights, Broadway will look like a sea of gold with fans hitting up the bars and grabbing a bite to eat before heading in. The energy of Broadway filters into the arena. And don’t worry, you won’t miss out on live music as they have that inside the stadium too. Once the game is over (especially after a big win), you walk right out to Broadway and can grab some post game drinks or even go karaokeing into the wee hours of the morning.
- The locals
It is no secret that I love to meet locals through sport (I find it is the best way to do so). Especially in a city like Nashville – or as local fans call it: Smashville. There are a lot of fun touristy things to do in Nashville that take up the top spots on TripAdvisor, but some of the best southern home cooking and best gin I’ve had came from the recommendations from locals at the Preds game. These were places that were off the beaten track or less well known.
The fans here are crazy for hockey, and while hockey may not have a long history in Nashville like it does in places like Montreal or even NYC, it is certainly distinct to Music City. Getting to know that history and the people involved in it will show you a little more about the city and its culture.
- The culture
Hockey and cowboy boots; something that shouldn’t make sense but here it works perfectly. People think of country music when they think of Nashville, but the Predators are working to add hockey into that mix. I’ll never forget sitting at a dive bar in my Nashville wearing Preds ugly Christmas sweater with loud live country music playing, and the bartender came up to me and in a thick southern accent said, “that sweater is so freakin’ cute, where did you get?!” It was right around the holidays, which is nearing the the middle of hockey season meaning that nothing too crazy is going on in the league. The last thing I expected at that time was someone to come up to me and ask me about the hockey apparel I was wearing. But, this is Smashville, and the hockey culture here is one of a kind.
- They are changing the hockey game
As I write this, the Nashville Predators are currently playing the Stanley Cup Final. They are considered a small market team, and based in an area that is obsessed with football (both NFL and college). The first Stanley Cup Final game received an average of 5 million viewers, which is up 22% from the previous year. When you include the digital rating, it was the most watched game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final since 2006. The NHL freaks out when a small market team comes into the final because that is “horrible” for ratings. What Nashville has done has shown us how a small market like Nashville can take the game, make it their own, and make it fun and marketable.
I recently wrote a blurb about this and sent it out on twitter. It received over 200 likes and 60 retweets (a pretty impressive feat for someone without a large twitter following).
— Jillian Fisher (@FisherJillian) May 25, 2017
It highlights how the culture in Nashville doesn’t quite match the culture around the sport, but the organization and fans here didn’t care. They found a way to make it fit. When you got a local game here, you are getting to see hockey done in a way that fits with the local culture.
- The team is seriously fun
Yes, this sounds kind of lame. It is 100% true though. Much like the city and its culture, the team is fun, young, hip, and a little unique. They are exciting to watch on the ice, and have a passion for playing the game. Just look at this clip of PK Subban.
PK is very excited pic.twitter.com/MhsefeFxbQ
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) May 30, 2017
In case you missed it, PK Subban was the main subject of one of the most hotly discussed NHL trades. The reason, while neither team has officially said it, was personality. PK Subban represents the new NHL culture; one where players have personality. He has a lot of it, and it is so fun to watch him and this team play.
Have you ever been to a game in Nashville, or is it on your list? Any questions about the game day experience? Let me know in the comments below 🙂