Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, TN
Saturday, February 15th
My wife and I set out for Nashville – from Greenville, South Carolina- to see the Blues take on the Predators. The next day was my wife’s birthday and she wanted to see the Blues play in Nashville – and she typically gets what she wants.
We like to plan our summer vacations around where the Cardinals are playing on the road. Recently we’ve started to do the same thing with the Blues. We saw them play the Blackhawks at the United Center years ago, and saw them on the road against both the Lightning and the Hurricanes last year. The game in Tampa was outstanding. Bryaden Schenn scored in OT to give the Blues a 1-0 victory. That win was # 4 of their team record 11 game winning streak.
We were both born and raised in the St. Louis area, but in 2002 we moved to Kansas City for my job. In 2009 we moved to the Greenville area for the same reason. The trip to Nashville from Greenville is right around 5 hours, pretty much the same amount of time it takes to get there from St. Louis; so it was no surprise to see plenty of Blues fans in and around the city.
The planners involved in the Bridgestone Arena couldn’t have come up with a better location. The Preds play right on Music Row, at 5th and Broadway, the heart of the party and tourist scene. Honky tonks, restaurants, tap houses and souvenir shops line the streets all the way down to the Cumberland River. We visited Music Row for an early dinner and then had a drink or two. We agreed our favorite establishment was Kid Rock’s Honky Tonk on Broadway and 3rd.
2nd floor view at Kid Rock’s Honky Tonk Looking down Broadway from Bridgestone Arena
Our hotel was within easy walking distance of the arena, which is definitely the way to go. Other than the arena garage, good luck finding parking nearby, and if you do happen to luck out, you’ll pay through the nose.
As we passed the arena on our way to lunch, we noticed that NBC was setting up for Hockey Day in America. 3 different hockey games were on NBC that day and Bridgestone Arena was the headquarters, with Mike Milbury and Brian Boucher serving as the hosts all day.
My wife and I were just curious, looking around at the set up and checking out the mini ice rink they had installed for the fans. I noticed Mike Milbury and Brian Boucher near the railing of the set chatting with a few fans, so I went over to say hello. They were both very approachable and engaging. I shook Mike’s hand and they happily posed for a quick photo.
We hit Jack’s Bar BQ for lunch Sunday (quite good) then walked down to the river. On the way back up we stopped at Rockbottom Brewery (the Brown Ale is excellent) before making our way to the arena for the game.
On our way inside, we sensed some excitement coming from the fans gathered around the NBC set. At first I wasn’t that interested because I had already had my time with the crew, but then we realized the source of the buzz. Actor, Blues and Cardinals fan, and all around St. Louis advocate John Hamm was in the house!
Hamm was on the set with Milbury and Boucher, likely talking about the Blues’ recent struggles. My wife and I were squeezing through the crowd in an attempt to get a good photo.
Mr. Hamm spoke on the set for a couple minutes then took off his headset and gave a few high fives and handshakes to people at the railing behind the set. I approached as quickly as I could, but by the time I arrived it was clear he was heading out. I lobbed a Hail Mary his way, “John! It’s my wife’s birthday!” That did it. I got his attention and told the little missus to get on over here and have her picture taken with the great John Hamm. It was awesome! And what a nice birthday present!
He told her happy birthday and mentioned that he liked her hat. And then he headed off the set.
We were pretty pumped.
The Game Experience
Unfortunately, the Blues struggles continued, as they fell to the Preds 2-1. With a little over 2 minutes left, St. Louis missed a clearing attempt. I said it out loud, “You gotta get the puck out there.” They didn’t, and sure enough it cost them the game when Kyle Turris beat Jordan Binnington with the help of an inadvertent screen from Justin Faulk.
Overall it was a good experience though, the arena seemed nice enough, clean and modern in my opinion. And the nachos came with jalapenos! I don’t believe that was the case when we went to Raleigh last season for the ‘Canes game. Come on…
We had no problem with the fans, but then again we’re never belligerent or rowdy. We cheer in the appropriate places but we’re never annoying to the other fan base. We’ve been all over the country for Cardinals, Blues and Rams games and the worst we ever experienced was a redneck lady in San Francisco who said these words to her son, (who I was sitting next to) “I’m sorry you have to sit next to Rams fans son. When we get home you can take a bath.” Yes, there are rednecks in San Francisco.
View from Section 310- seat 10
We sat in the upper bowl – section 310 – but we were near mid ice and in the first row against the railing so we had a good view. The place was packed and appeared to be a sellout. I saw very few empty seats. The fans were rather reserved, I made a note of that to put in the article, but during the 3rd period when the game was on the line they really came to life and it became a very exciting atmosphere.
Just before the game began, the Predators organization showed a lot of class by wishing their best to Jay Bouwmeester. From what I could tell, every fan in the building was cheering for his speedy recovery, Preds fans included.
In the end, the Blues lost a close one. They controlled play for about 3/4 of the game, but were snake bit once again. But overall it was a great experience. I highly recommend Blues fans make the 5 hour drive and get there a day or two early to experience the city, especially Music Row.
Stay tuned for my next “out of towner” report when I go on the road to see the Blues take on the Hurricanes March 19th in Raleigh. Let’s Go Blues!