Bridgestone Arena (formerly Sommet Center, Gaylord Entertainment Center and Nashville Arena) is an all-purpose venue in downtown Nashville, Tennessee, that was completed in 1996.
Ownership and usage
The Bridgestone Arena is owned by the Sports Authority of Nashville and Davidson County and operated by Powers Management Company, a subsidiary of the Nashville Predators National Hockey League franchise, which has been its primary tenant since 1998. The Predators hosted the NHL Entry Draft here in 2003.
The Bridgestone Arena has a seating capacity of 17,113 for ice hockey, approximately 20,000 for basketball, 10,000 for half-house concerts, 18,500 for end-stage concerts and 20,000 for center-stage concerts, depending on the configuration used. It has also hosted several professional wrestling events and a boxing card since its opening.
The seating configuration is notable for the oddly-shaped south end, which features two large round roof support columns, no mid-level seating, and only one level of suites, bringing the upper level seats much closer to the floor.
The arena can be converted into the 5,145-seat Music City Theater, used for theater concerts and Broadway and family shows, by placing a stage at the north end of the arena floor and hanging a curtain behind the stage and another to conceal the upper deck. The arena also features 43,00 sq. ft. of space in a trade show layout.
Awards and nominations
The Bridgestone Arena was nominated for the 2007 Pollstar Concert Industry Venue of the Year Award. This is the fourth time the venue has been nominated. The first was in 1998 as the Nashville Arena, and then in 1999 and 2000 as the Gaylord Entertainment Center.
The arena's original name when opened in 1996 was Nashville Arena. Designed by Populous (formerly HOK Sport) in conjunction with the Nashville based architecture/engineering firm Hart Freeland Roberts, INC., it was designed at an angle on the corner of Broadway and 4th Avenue in Nashville in physical homage to the historic Ryman Auditorium, the original home of the Grand Ole Opry. In 1999, the arena was renamed Gaylord Entertainment Center (GEC) after a 20-year, US$80 million naming rights contract was signed between the Predators and Nashville-based Gaylord Entertainment Company, which at the time held part-ownership of the team.
In February 2005, it was announced that the Predators and Gaylord (which had earlier sold its stake in the team) had reached an agreement terminating any further involvement between them, and that the Gaylord name would remain on the building only until a new purchaser could be found for the naming rights. As a result, many in the Nashville media quickly reverted to calling the facility by its original name, the Nashville Arena. With the beginning of the 2006 season, the Predators began referring to the arena by its original name as well. In doing so, the team replaced the "Gaylord Entertainment Center" wordmark on the center ice circle with the original "Nashville Predators" wordmark from the inaugural season. The "Gaylord Entertainment Center" name, however, was still displayed on the building's exterior signage at this point.
The facility was officially renamed the Nashville Arena again and all Gaylord signage was removed from the building's exterior on March 16, 2007.
On May 18, 2007, Sommet Group, a Franklin, Tennessee-based collection of companies whose services include human resources administration, payroll processing, software development, computer repair, insurance, and risk management bought the naming rights to the arena, and it became known as Sommet Center. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The company had previously been the corporate title sponsor for the Predators during the 2007 Stanley Cup playoffs. The agreement lasted only two years until the Predators sued the Sommet Group for breach of contract, alleging the latter had failed to make numerous payments under the naming rights agreement. As part of the suit, the Predators stated intentions to seek a new title sponsor for the arena.
On February 23, 2010, it was announced that Bridgestone will assume the naming rights of the building. The arena became known as Bridgestone Arena. 
In the summer of 2007 a number of renovations were made to the Sommet Center at a cost of several million dollars. Renovations included changes to concession stands and public areas, as well as major changes to infrastructure. The most obvious change was the August 2007 replacement of the original center-hanging scoreboard (at a cost of $3.6 million) with a new scoreboard made by ANC Sports. The original analog scoreboard had become outdated and was no longer supported by the original manufacturer, making parts difficult to come by. The new scoreboard is referred to as the "megatron" by arena and Predators staff. In addition, the TV–media control room was renovated at a cost of $2.6 million.
- Sommet Center nominated as venue of year - Nashville Business Journal:
- Gaylord Entertainment Acquires Naming Rights to Nashville
- Lathon, Erika (2009-11-26). "Predators File Lawsuit Against Sommet Center". WZTV Nashville. http://www.wztv.com/newsroom/top_stories/wztv_vid_2081.shtml. Retrieved 2009-11-26.
- "Predators' home could be Bridgestone Arena next week". http://www.tennessean.com/article/20100223/NEWS02/100223017/Predators-home-could-be-Bridgestone-Arena-next-week. Retrieved 2010-03-11.
- Sports Authority pleads for GEC funds on Nashville City Paper
- Nashville Predators - Features: New scoreboard reaches Sommet Center floor - 08/16/2007
- Nashville Predators - Features: New video features on Preds TV - 10/26/2007
- Cass, Michael (2007-01-11). "Predators and Metro have unresolved issue". The Tennessean. http://tennessean.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070112/SPORTS02/701120420/1328/SPORTS. Retrieved 2007-01-11.
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