Growing up in Tennessee, the city of Nashville has always been the measuring stick as to what a city can do to make itself appealing. The two big cities on either side, Knoxville and Memphis, have developed a rivalry of sorts with our state capital as to who’s the better city with the better atmosphere.
Everyone knows what type of town Nashville is. Broadway is the center of the activity. The street is lined with honky tonk bars, six bands in six different places playing a Bruce Springsteen song at the same time.
The Nashville Predators are becoming a NHL-powerhouse, with a big Stanley Cup run a year ago.
The Southeastern Conference has really staked it’s claim on the city with men’s and women’s basketball tournaments being held at Bridgestone Arena along with several other events like the Music City Bowl and the Vols making a trip down every so often to a play a home game at Nissan Stadium.
Nashville has even been dubbed as “the city where dreams come true” with Music Row, where aspiring music artists who are mostly in the country music industry come to get their start. The bottom line is that Nashville is Tennessee’s hub city and its why Bud Adams, the longtime owner of the former Houston Oilers and now Tennessee Titans picked Nashville, because as he described it, “it is the Athens of the south”.
So, all this sports town needed was a big-time event, something that could not only give the city the limelight but keep them there. The Preds did host the NHL All-Star game in 2016, an event where the hockey world is looking at you only. The event came to Nashville where people have said “they don’t know hockey” and claim it to be a small market. The franchise had an unbelievable playoff run last year that ended in the Stanley Cup Final when they lost in six games to the the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Nashville does have the CMA Fest that takes place every year, but it’s doesn’t have a big enough “sports” feel.
Then you remember last month, the Titans did a uniform reveal on Broadway. The organization expected a very nice turnout, but they did not expect 30,000 people to show up and the crowd be as far as you can see down Broadway. If NFL executives were there and left after seeing 30,000 people show up to what some would call a “fashion show”, the lights were turned on in their heads about what this fan base will do for it’s team.
This week, the NFL announced that Nashville won the bid to host the 2019 NFL Draft. Nashville will join the ranks of New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, and others to host the three-day event.
Not long ago, the NFL visited Nashville for a third site visit. Roger Goodell, the NFL’s commissioner even called owner Amy Adams-Strunk just to see if there was still a large amount of commitment to this idea. Adams-Strunk reassured Goodell that there was with the organization and the city. Former players even got in on the act as Eddie George, the former running back for the team from 1996-2003 tweeted out a picture days ago from a video he recorded with country music singer Tim McGraw. The video was the announcement that the city had landed the draft.
If you had said in the mid to late 1990s that Nashville would be the city it is today, people would look at you like you’re insane. In the past 20 years, the NHL team got it together and made a legendary run at the Stanley Cup, only to fall short but still retain a highly solid roster for potential runs in the future. The Titans would go all the way to the Super Bowl in just their third season, only to fall one yard short.
The population of Nashville is also something to be noticed. In 2000, 1.2 million people called the area home. As of 2017, the population had risen to over 1.8 million people.
One can’t help but think about Bud Adams, the late Titans owner who passed away in 2013 and Amy Adams-Strunk, his daughter and the team’s present-day controlling owner. Bud chose Nashville as the Titans home because of what the city was at the time as “the Athens of the south” and what the city had the opportunity to be. You can’t help but think about the smile that’d be on Bud’s face today, seeing him get the news that his team, the team he’s owned since 1960 would host the NFL Draft; or the smile that’d be on his face in general to see what type of sports town Nashville has turned into.
Written by: Jake Wallman
Edited by: Colin Castleberry