Apart from visiting Pittsburgh itself, seeing a match at the Bridgestone Arena was likely the highlight of my Pittsburgh Penguins trip in March 2022. Nashville is obviously a very special place to me – and so I was really nervous to see my Pittsburgh Penguins on the sixth day of my trip in the heart of country music.
Bridgestone Arena – Location & Traffic
Bridgestone Arena is as central as it gets: the Northern front (and main entrance) of the venue directly links to the Broadway, the honky-tonk boulevard of Nashville. Overall, this part of Nashville is very compact, so that you can visit a lot of key attractions like the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Johnny Cash Museum or the Ryman Auditorium in very short walking distance. The hotel I stayed in during my trip, the Hilton Nashville Downtown, is right next door across the street.
The central location is a great feature (you also meet a lot of fans before and after the matches in the bars around), but also the biggest issue of Bridgestone Arena, maybe: even though Nashville is designed to please a lot of visitors at the same time, parking and street capacity is limited and you very likely run into heavy traffic before the match. Unfortunately, local transport which could ease the situation like the locals trains from Riverside, don’t offer a sufficient service frequency. Parking around the arena is expansive, even compared to other NHL places.
Bridgestone Arena – Arena & Ticket Situation
Bridgestone Arena has been completed in 1996. Its original name was Nashville Arena, later it was branded as Gaylord Entertainment Center and Sommet Center. It is having a maximum capacity of 19,891 people for concerts and 17,159 for ice hockey. It is regularly used for concerts and also hosting the CMA Awards. The arena feels very modern, I like the wide aisles, which frequently have shopping and dining opportunities on both sides in the lower ranks.
I have to say that as much as I liked walking around in the arena, I did not like the inside of the arena too much. One key reason is that it produces quite a strong echo, even when filled with people. I am not a native speaker – but it was the first time in an NHL match I had severe issues to understand the speaker due to sound quality. Secondly, the seat width and pitch is narrow, which is, of course, conflicting with my body size.
The locals like their Predators and there are many tourists in town typically. Thus, ticketing is not easy, but not a challenge like at Scotiabank Arena. Ticket prices are reasonable to high: my behind the goal ticket was 181 USD including all taxes. Due to the Stanley Cup Final history between the two teams, I guess that Pittsburgh is rather one of the “top opponents” they are facing, so that other tickets might be cheaper.
Bridgestone Arena – Atmosphere
I really liked the atmosphere before the game. People were hanging out, there was quite some opportunity to enjoy yourself, including live country music. Interestingly, before the match and during the match, the genre just had a very subordinate role in the playlist. Only Tim McGraw’s I Like It, I Love It played a major role as a goal jingle. There is also a band stage in the arena, which is used for intermission entertainment.
The atmosphere in the arena is good. It is not comparable to European venues, but the people cheer for their team without being instructed to do so, which I absolutely like. The Wikipedia article about Bridgestone Arena states it was named the loudest arena in sports in 2017, which is – of course – ridiculous and once again shows a limited horizon of US-American sports consumers. Not only as the Predators had an excellent day at that match, it was a very good atmosphere, compared to many North American professional venues, though.
Bridgestone Arena – Food & Shopping
The food situation in the arena is really good. There is a nice variety of different dishes, the pricing is absolutely fair. The BBQ platter I had was a good value for money.
Of course, the Predators also give you some chances to invest into merchandise. The most impressive thing was the jersey carousel you see on the first two pictures. Apart from that, there are are kinds of memorabilia you imagine available. I also had a look into their major store, located at the side of the arena, before the match.
Bridgestone Arena – My View
I loved the atmosphere at Bridgestone Arena. Despite the Penguins had the only loss on this 2022 trip, I really enjoyed that Nashville venue. Unfortunately, the seats and the acoustics killed a bit of the experience – and I was expecting to have more country music during the match. Bad luck.
Postings about Nashville
Here are all reviews and more about and around Music City:
Flyctory.com about Ice Hockey
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