Dawn of the Preds: How Nashville Became a Hockey Town


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In this week's Scene, J.R. Lind pens a love letter to the Nashville Predators and the die-hard fans who supported the team as it stepped up this year. Instead of just a recap of season highlights, the story goes into the many behind-the-scenes factors that made the Preds' attendance boost and advance to the playoffs possible — including the newfound front-office savvy that found ways to silence the term "nontraditional market":

"It was important to acknowledge how special our crowd is," COO Sean Henry says. "We never liked hearing 'nontraditional market.' It's 'new traditional.' ... We were tired of people saying [Nashvillians] don't know hockey. We have informed and passionate fans."

Do we ever. Wear earplugs and tread lightly as you approach Section 303, which began its infamous history at the very first Preds game. That's when a group of longtime Nashville hockey fans took it upon themselves to turn their section — which happened to be 303 — into the arena's loudest. The rest of the section embraced their mirth-making: chanting, taunting, general mischief. Since then, the Cellblock has become one of the toughest tickets in the arena and has one of the highest percentages of season-ticket holders — not to mention the highest likelihood of megadecibel opposing-team catcall damage.

Since we acted all snarky when 1100 Broadway inflamed the tear ducts of Cleveland Cavs' fans last week, we should cop here to our own major goof in the story's print edition — where in haste we pasted Shea Weber's name on a picture of Mike Fisher. (It's the editor who deserves a puck in the teeth, not the author.) But check out J.R.'s story, which includes details ranging from the stalwart support of Tennessee's former First Lady Andrea Conte to the ritual "Thanks, Paul!"


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