Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Bridgestone Arena Gets An Impressive Facelift

The opening of the Music City Center, Nashville's new and gargantuan convention center, has changed many aspects of downtown Nashville. Notably, the MCC along with new hotels, restaurants, and other development has opened the area known as SoBro to a tremendous increase in foot traffic from visitors and residents. The area south of Broadway has now become a new destination for those coming to downtown.

This means that the Bridgestone Arena must change as well.

The south entrance to the Arena was functional and efficient but certainly unspectacular. That entrance was not inviting, designed as it was to get people in and out of the building but nothing else.

That is changing.


I had an opportunity to tour the improvements that are made in and to the outside of the Arena with Chris Parker, Executive Vice President of the Predators, and I came away impressed with the extent of the changes.

The south entrance will be expanded. The facades immediately to the left and right of the doors will be removed and the entrance expanded to handle more foot traffic. Fans that have used the south entrance will notice that the glass overhang over the doors has already been taken down.

The removal of the roof or overhang is complete, and work is being done to make the entrance more pedestrian friendly.

Looking east, the walls that were originally there have been removed and the design calls for a plaza to be developed around the south entrance. High definition LED signage will be attached to the side of the Arena. The signs will be 7 feet tall and 15 feet long and will wrap around the building on the south and east side of the building at the corner of 5th Ave. and Demonbruen.

Looking out at the MCC from the doors of the south entrance of the Arena, one can see the work on the new plaza. Once completed, the Plaza will have steps leading up to a main landing before entering the doors to the south entrance. This will allow a raised platform for outdoor events such as news conferences or performances, for example.

These two areas will undergo dramatic changes. In the top picture, this part of the Arena closest to the street will be developed into a brew pub/restaurant that will have a street entrance as well as an entrance from the inside of the Arena. This will allow the restaurant to be open even if the Arena is not, and the plans are to get a restaurant operator that will have the facility open at all times, even if the Arena is not in use.

The area closest to the doors is slated to be developed as a retail facility. Both the restaurant/brew house and the retail facility can operate in conjunction with each other or independently. At this time, a tenant for each of the facilities has not been named. The plan is to have tables on the plaza area for patrons that want to dine or have a drink before or after a game and to be used when the Arena is closed. The overall re-design is making this area outside the Arena more pedestrian friendly and welcoming to visitors that may be attending events at the MCC or staying in one of the hotels that is being built nearby.

Part of the re-design of the South entrance has been to take out the old box office area, which is empty space that you can see. Some of this space will be utilized for the expansion of the doors and part will be used for the planned retail space.

This is a view from the concourse of the Delta Dental Kids Zone. The Kids Zone will be relocated to another part of the concourse, and this will become an entrance to the retail space and restaurant.

The walls on the main concourse by section 111 and 112 are being re-worked to accommodate the retail space. The first aid station on the main concourse that was at 111 is being moved down by the rear elevator lobby on the main level.

Those that used the South entrance may remember that there was glass above the doors that went to the ceiling. As you can see, this area has been walled in and new signage will be placed above the doors.

You are looking at what will be the door to the new pro shop that will open to 5th Ave. The main pro shop will be relocated and will double in size from 2,000 square feet to 4,000 square feet of display space and 2,000 square feet of storage. This view is from the entrance to the pro shop from the concourse. Fans in the Arena will have access from the main level by the front elevator lobby. Relocating the pro shop will provide a street entrance off 5th Ave., meaning that the pro shop can stay open even if the Arena is closed for the set up of a concert. The pro shop will have a  portion of the street wall removed and glass for merchandise display.

Although a bit dark, you can see the space that the pro shop will occupy. The expanded space will make for better merchandise display and a wider selection of items for Predators fans.

Also, the marquee and sign on the main plaza at 5th and Broadway will be replaced. The new sign will be a high definition LED sign.

The changes in the Arena are progressing at a rapid pace, but will not be totally complete when the season begins. The South entrance redesign and construction will be ready for the start of the season, while the pro shop construction and relocation will occur closer to the first of the year.

These changes will make the south entrance more fan friendly and are much needed improvements. More importantly, they make the Bridgestone Arena an integral part of the vibrant and growing SoBro area.

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