Changes at Bridgestone Arena to benefit locals, tourists - WKRN News 2

Changes at Bridgestone Arena to benefit locals, tourists

Posted: Updated: Aug 27, 2013 12:23 PM CDT
Outdoor video board. Outdoor video board.
New entrance and stairway. New entrance and stairway.

It'll be awhile before the dust settles at Bridgestone Arena, but signs of change are already visible.

The facility is getting a south side makeover.

Plans were announced last year to renovate the arena at the corner of 5th Avenue and Demonbreun Street. The plans were approved in April, along with the estimated $7 million price tag.

A few weeks ago, construction crews began making quick work of interior and exterior projects.

"From pillar to pillar, angling to the wall, will all be part of the new entrance, and will be part of what's being called Retail Space B," said Chris Parker, as he walked through the south end of the arena concourse.

"So you won't be in the arena until you're standing on this side of the glass wall," he continued to motion.

Parker, the Executive Vice President of the Nashville Predators and Bridgestone Arena, gave Nashville's News 2 an inside look at the construction.

Several storage areas are being re-purposed into retail space, while the south entrance is being scaled back.

"So when it's all said and done, this foyer area will be completely gone," he said. "The entrance to the arena will be these set of doors. This will all be open air. The only thing that will remain is sort of the roof."

The south side will no longer have a box office and the stairs leading to the entrance will be closer to Demonbreun Street.

The new open-air entrance will be framed by a pub-style restaurant on the left and a large video board on the right. Both face Demonbreun Street.

A much-needed retail space will also face 5th Avenue. A 5,000 square foot pro-shop will offer Predators paraphernalia year-round, replacing the interior-only access offered by the current shop.

"Currently, we do not have a pro-shop or a retail space that fronts out from the facility," Parker said. "And so when it comes time for events to be held here at the arena, we have to close the pro-shop in order to have [Professional Bull Riders] or Bruno Mars or The Eagles during the day [that's] somewhat inconvenient for our guests and friends trying to grab a hat, a t-shirt, or a jersey."

Changes to the one-million-square-foot entertainment venue are part of an effort to stay current by arena standards and to keep up with the ever-changing landscape of South Broadway, commonly called SoBro.

"This used to be the area where downtown ended, and Demonbreun Street south was just parking lots and businesses," said Parker, adding "and now, with the [Music City Center] and the Omni Hotel, with the Country Music Hall of Fame expansion, the new roundabout, all these things making it far more vibrant and dynamic."

Construction is also underway on 5th Avenue South. Metro Public Works is creating a two-way street from Lafayette Street to James Robertson Parkway. The project is expected to be completed by mid-September, weather permitting.

The timeline for Bridgestone Arena renovations will cover the next year. The south entrance will be open to the public by October, in time for the Predators regular season. The bulk of the work, including the pub-style restaurant is expected be open by the first of the year. The pro-shop will be open for business by the spring.

Plans are also in place to replace the marquis on the north side of the arena. No specific date was released for that project.

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