Preds

While it’s not the Winter Classic everyone was hoping for, hosting a Stadium Series game at Nissan Stadium in 2022 is a nice consolation prize for the Nashville Predators.

During the formal announcement of the Stadium Series on Thursday at Nissan Stadium, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman pointed to the overwhelming success of the league’s previous events in Nashville – the 2003 NHL Draft, the 2016 NHL All-Star Game, the 2017 Stanley Cup Final – as to why the city was next on his list of places to host an outdoor game. 

“Roman Josi told me a few minutes ago that nobody throws a party like Nashville,” Bettman said. “…Every time we come to Nashville for a big event, we know it’s going to be special. That’s why we’re excited to bring our first outdoor visit to Nashville. We will reimagine this amazing stadium. It’s going to be a great event.”

Every time the Predators have been showcased on a national stage, the city never disappoints. The 2016 NHL All-Star Game, which was held at Bridgestone Arena, drew 17,113 fans, and a reported 100,000 fans packed the streets of lower Broadway during the team’s Stanley Cup Final run in 2017.

“Seeing this city rally behind our team is amazing,” Josi said. “The Winter Classic is something you’ll never forget…Those experiences playing outdoor games is unbelievable, and to do it at home in Nashville it’s going to be amazing…I can’t wait to see this stadium in gold.”

The February 26th game will be a first for both franchises. The Predators have never hosted an outdoor game and the Tampa Bay Lightning have never played in an outdoor game. The last, and only, time the Predators played an outdoor game was the 2020 Winter Classic, which drew a crowd of 85,630 fans and was the second-largest crowd ever for an NHL game.

Nissan Stadium can’t hold quite as many fans as the ’20 Winter Classic, but with a near 70-000-seat capacity, the event will still draw quite the crowd. Monday’s game between the Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills drew a crowd of 69,419, the most-attended game in the stadium’s history. A similar, if not greater turnout is expected for the February game.

“It’s not a Stadium Series anymore it’s a Smashville Spectacular,” Predators’ president and CEO Sean Henry said. “And we’re excited about it. It’s not a one-day affair; it’s going to be a week-long party and I cannot wait.”

Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_