Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What A Difference A Dozen Years Makes

Last night was an interesting one for sports in Nashville—especially when you consider how drastically the landscape has changed in the last dozen years or so.

On the evening of April 1, viewers from across the country (and probably from a few foreign countries as well) watched the U.S. national soccer team on ESPN2 trouncing Trinidad & Tobago in a World Cup qualifying match at Nashville's LP Field, which is also the home of the NFL's Tennessee Titans.

Meanwhile on Spike, others saw Ultimate Fighting Championship matches from Nashville's Sommet Center, home of the NHL's Nashville Predators.

Fifteen years ago neither venue existed. The Nashville Arena, later known as the Gaylord Entertainment Center and now Sommet, opened in 1996 with the promise of an NHL team, which wouldn't show up for another two years. LP Field, at times known as Adelphia Coliseum and The Coliseum, opened three years later in 1999.

When I moved to Nashville in 1990 there were two pro sports teams: the triple A baseball Nashville Sounds and the minor league hockey Nashville Knights. The Sounds are still around and doing fairly well, thank you, but the Knights left Nashville when the Preds arrived and became the Pensacola Pilots (now defunct).

While the debate continues about whether the public funding used for the construction of both facilities was fiscally responsible, there's no arguing that Nashville's sports cred has risen significantly since the facilities opened.

Twenty-eight thousand fans watched the U.S. beat T&T 3-0 last night, and that's something I never imagined I would see in Nashville when I moved here 19 years ago.


  1. Sports has also helped to diversity Nashville's entertainment community, don't you think? Instead of downtown being just about honky tonks and country music, the offerings are more diverse now.

  2. That's true. Although when I first moved here there was no reason to go downtown on nights or weekends. There just wasn't much there. The Ryman Auditorium hadn't been remodeled and reopened and the honky tonks were basically local hangs and not nearly as popular as they are now.

  3. I think that major league sporting events has help to revitalize downtown Nashville. The atmosphere in downtown has changed a lot since the Predators adn the Titans have come to Nashville. People love their sports and their music now they can have both.