Recently voted the friendliest city in the United States, Nashville is no stranger to throwing a party, but music city has finally been recognized nationally for the amount of fun we know how to have. The weekend of June 9-11th in Nashville not only brought great national attention and glory to the Nashville Predators, it also brought no less than 100,000 fans to lower Broadway where fans of country music and hockey alike celebrated the predators success and the coming of CMA Music Festival. As if this was not a big enough celebration, over 65,000 fans gathered just down the road in Manchester, TN for Bonnaroo, all during the same weekend.
Every year, some of Nashville’s biggest stars perform at CMA festival, a 4 day music festival that takes over the town. Country music fans from all over the world travel to experience the culture, food, and music that Nashville is famous for. Fans spend all day by the river watching the smaller artists perform at several stages throughout the city, and then cross the pedestrian bridge to Nissan Stadium for the bigger concert in the evening. This year, the pedestrian bridge looked a little different, and was decorated to pay tribute to the Nashville Predators, who at the time were playing in the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in franchise history.
For those of you that don’t follow hockey, before 2017, the Nashville Predators had never made it to the Western Conference finals, let alone the Stanley Cup Finals. Though sports broadcasters insisted that Nashville was not a hockey town, we certainly showed them. The entire city wholeheartedly embraced the Stanley Cup finals, and no effort was spared in supporting the team. Tens of thousands of fans gathered in the streets. For a city that is “not a hockey town” (according to sports commentators), this city sure knows how to support a hockey team.
Nashville’s run for the Stanley Cup was one of the most exciting times for the city. It included watch parties for both home and away games, with the Bridgestone arena selling out for away game watch parties and send off pep rallies at the airport for the team.
I had the privilege of attending game 6, which turned out to include the presentation of the Stanley Cup. I have never heard Smashville so loud before in my entire life. Unfortunately, the season did not end in Nashville’s favor, and the predators fans ended the historic season by chanting “thank you Predators” as we all held back tears. Although it hurt to watch the NHL present the cup to the Penguins, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I reluctantly watched. It’s a pretty cool tradition for a pretty incredible sport.
Losing the Stanley Cup was incredibly difficult, especially since the NHL arguably cheated the Preds out of it with some pretty terrible calls, but experiencing the thrill of the playoffs was a blast, especially since it meant I got to experience it with my dad. If you haven’t made it to Nashville, CMA Fest or to a Predators game, add it to your list. I promise you will not regret it and that Nashville will not let you down.