The Nashville Predators’ Stanley Cup run during the 2016-17 season was an eight-week advertisement campaign for the city of Nashville.
Ralph Schulz, who is the President of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, admittedly borrowed the coined statement from Predators Chief Executive Officer Sean Henry but nonetheless, it highlights the buzz and momentum circulating around Music City … or better yet, Hockeytown South?
Prior to the current season, which saw Nashville kick off its home schedule last night, Schulz and I discussed not only the economic impact of the playoffs but how the two-month advertisement provided an even bigger catalyst to draw sports events and expansion teams. Just in the last three years alone, NHL All-Star Weekend, the Women’s NCAA Final Four and SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament have all called Nashville home.
Said Schulz: “It’s not the super events that we’re really going for, the high cost Olympics or Super Bowl or whatever. It’s the events that draw lots of people. … They’re smart bids, high-yield at relatively a lower cost.”
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When asked if the city has cemented itself as a hockey town following the Predators’ success, Schulz said “I don’t think there’s any question.”
“I give the (Predators) ownership a lot of credit. … They have built the team to be able to capitalize off of this opportunity,” he added. “They aren’t a flash in the pan organization. In the 1800s, this was a distribution center that reinvented itself as a publishing center that reinvented itself as a music center that reinvented itself as a healthcare center. This is not a flash in the pan city. This a city that builds industries.”
This summer, Forbes ranked Nashville as a top 20 market for young professionals, with 100 people moving to the city per day. Schulz also referenced the city’s bid for a Major League Soccer expansion team, too, and how the growing support for the Predators in Nashville could potentially be impacting the bidding efforts. MLSSoccer.com’s Jeff Rueter tweeted (now deleted) on Oct. 2 that Nashville had been selected as an MLS expansion city as the local ownership group and city officials unveiled a stadium funding proposal. Though he didn’t speculate or comment on the rumored report, Schulz did say that the Stanley Cup put an “exclamation point” on the push for soccer in Nashville.
“For MLS, I think it’s a composite of things that can move us up the list, but I don’t think there’s any question that the crowd, the community response to the Predators said, ‘Wow, that’s a place showing real possibility’. When you put 50,000 people in your stadium for a soccer game, and they’re both visiting teams, that says a lot about the possibility of that sport,” said Schulz, referring to the Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur match in July at Nissan Stadium.
Added Schulz: “When you put 70,000 people on Broadway (during the Stanley Cup), and that picture is going out around the world … I can’t speak to the MLS, but I got to believe it’s something that they really noticed. I do think it’s helped our bid, that the city gets behind what is Nashville.”
The Stanley Cup run, which generated more than $50 million for the city according to the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation, created a narrative that stretched beyond the Southeast of a forward-thinking booming metropolis centered around music, sports, entertainment and healthcare.
“You combine the Stanley Cup playoffs with the Nashville TV show, and I think there was a breakthrough out there. It got the ‘it’ city designation, it got the TV show and then it got this fabulous sports exposure. You put all three of those things together, and they’re a breakthrough moment for a city like Nashville that was branded in only one way in the past. The Stanley Cup run really deepened the brand of the city.”
Below are also a few key Stanley Cup statistics, figures and noteworthy pieces of information provided to Sports Business Chronicle from the Nashville Predators.
- Bridgestone Arena underwent nearly $6 million in renovations this past summer and over $66 million in the past seven years.
- Seventy-five-plus companies had some type of sponsorship integration during the 2017 playoffs, including Kroger, Fifth Third Bank, Hunt Brothers Pizza and Comcast Xfinity.
- An average of four million people visited the team website each month during the playoffs.
- In the playoffs, the user base on the Predators’ app grew about 25 percent.
- Throughout the run, almost $2.7 million was generated for Nashville through ticket, merchandise and concessions sales taxes (11 total home games).
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