NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Stanley Cup Playoffs started off with a win for the Nashville Predators as the defeated the Colorado Avalanche 5-2 in game one, and while the game on the ice was entertaining, fans in the arena were also treated to new additions in Bridgestone Arena to add to their experience.
Prior to the game starting, a screen came down from the ceiling and surrounded the ice, right in front of the fans in the stands.
The lights went down, and video was projected onto the screen, bringing an experience to NHL hockey that had never been seen before.
“In years past, we’ve always taken the first round and done some fun things and then the goal was to add to it with each successful round, where this year, we looked at where we finished last year and what a great show it was and said, alright, we need to start at that level," Sean Henry, Predators President and CEO said. “We’ve invested more than we ever have before in the game operation itself for the entertainment side of it. We’re doing something that has never been done in arena sports before.”
The idea came from concerts that Bridgestone Arena staff had seen, and because many of the people working on special effects for concerts live in Nashville, it made sense to integrate it into the Nashville hockey experience.
“We’re fortunate as one of the busiest buildings in America, we see some of the best concerts that come about, and when you look at some of the production things that we get the chance to see, we steal pieces here and there," Henry explained. "Most importantly, the people that are designing those and installing them live right here in Nashville, so we tap into that.”
A permanent fixture that was added to Bridgestone Arena is a fish tank, specific for catfish.
“This is something we should have done 20 years ago in reality, or whenever the first fish was thrown," Henry said. “This is gonna be an area that you’ll see people posing in front of and doing selfies and it’ll just be a really fun reinforcement of where you are.”
There was one catfish in the tank on Thursday night, a catfish named (Vince) Gill, and there are plans to add 3 more, one named Ben after a longtime Preds fan who passed away, and two who have not been named.
“Good symbolism, it was 4 catfish, 4 wins per series, 4 series gets you to the ultimate prize," Henry said.
The final two catfish will be named with input from fans, according to the organization, because at the end of the day, it's all about the fans.
“They create their own moments from the 'Let It Be' song to 'Dilly Dilly' to the standing ovation," Henry said. "Virtually every month, there’s something our fans do that really is unique, and this is our ability to just say thank you, and we get a chance to add a few things to what they do from time to time, but this will be a fun thing.”
The catfish tank is on the main floor of Bridgestone Arena and has a temporary location for the playoffs, and will move to a permanent location in the Summer.
There were also changes to concessions in the arena. A new Patron margarita bar was put in with "FANG-aritas", and one of the beer stands was changed into a beer-serving zamboni.