By Ron Wynn
NASHVILLE, TN — While they don’t want to overlook the two games they’ve got to play before next Saturday, the Nashville Predators can’t help but anticipate their first Stadium Series contest. They’re scheduled to play the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lighting Feb. 26 at Nissan Stadium. Crews have been working on putting in the special rink for the contest, but the biggest fears are weather related. Last week’s 70 degree days didn’t help matters,
The advance weather report calls for temperatures in the mid-40s Saturday, with rain a possibility. The NHL’s Chief Content Officer Steve Mayer told various media outlets last week that the upcoming Nissan Stadium poses some unique challenges in terms of bringing hockey to the Titans’ stadium. “I’m not just saying it because I’m here – this one’s going to be awesome,” Mayer said while describing what the league’s plans for Saturday night. “It’s one of the reasons why we really couldn’t wait to come to Nashville, just all this area has to offer… Everybody comes out – the music community comes out, the sports community comes out, the fans come out – they certainly get behind their Preds… We’ve done a lot of these games, but from a visual standpoint, the way this field will look and the lighting and how it actually represents this area and Broadway and Nashville, it’s about the best that we’ve ever done.”
The NHL released a statement saying, “The NHL-regulation rink that sits atop Nissan Stadium’s field will be surrounded by design elements inspired by Nashville’s Broadway entertainment district – neon marquees, historic brick buildings, musical notes, and a cowboy boot with a skate blade as well as a cowboy hat with a hockey stick in the band as a nod to the Predators’ home arena and host city. Sharing the spotlight with the rink will be three stages, one for each of the headline performers and each bearing the name of their respective Nashville establishments – Miranda Lambert’s Casa Rosa and Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row, for their first intermission presented by Ticketmaster performances, and a center stage for “The Stadium Biscuits” house band (led by band leader John Bohlinger) and other special guests.”
“From the time the fans walk into the stadium, we’re going to put on a show,” Mayer said. “We have a house band, and next week we’ll be announcing about 12 country music artists – actually, not only country music artists, but rock-and-roll artists as well, who will join our house band for music moments. So, every time there’s a whistle and TV goes to a commercial, out will come the house band with a special guest, and that special guest will play for our fans. Then, when we return from the commercial break, television will show that artist and show that music. So, live music is a huge part of what we’re going to do.”
Meanwhile the Predators completed their road trip Tuesday with a game at the Florida Panthers. The Dallas Stars come to Nashville Thursday night. The Predators hoped to snap a three-game losing streak against the Panthers. They rallied last week from a 4-1 third period deficit, but fell short 5-3 to the Carolina Hurricanes. They began the week 28-18-4, in fourth place in the Western Conference’s Central Division. They currently occupy the first wild card spot for the Western Conference playoffs.