So I went with the Caps Road Crew to Nashville yesterday. Or rather, got tickets through them and sat with them. As I had to work Friday, flying to Nashville seemed like the better option. Thoughts on the area and the arena below the jump.
The Area: Getting into Nashville via airport (BNA) wasn't bad. The airport is open, not especially crowded, and with plenty of amenities and shopping. I got drawn into a shop on the way to baggage claim called Spirit of the Red Horse, which is largely Native-American themed and had lots of shiny jewelry. (Yes, I did make a purchase or two.) I didn't have to talk to the people much - the place is a bit of a haphazard maze, but the signs were clear, and if I did need help, the people were friendly enough. Lots of people carrying guitars in the airport. I guess that fits.
Truthfully, there isn't a whole lot to do in Nashville if you don't like country music or aren't inclined towards the bar / live music scene. The Hermitage is a worthwhile visit if you're an American history or political buff, but leave a good half a day for that. It's a lot of walking and there's a lot to see and read. Their gift shop is pretty extensive, too. It's well-preserved and well-kept, and I got a few photos in the garden. (They didn't allow photography inside the mansion itself.)
Andrew Jackson's tomb
Marigolds in the garden. The Hermitage has a huge flower / herb garden that was maintained for the pleasure of the lady of the house and her children, and the tombs are located in a corner of the garden.
But I digress. There are also ghost tours of the area, but those typically run late at night and I had other plans (gee) so I didn't go on those. I did get behind a bunch of people riding in a hearse on my way out of the arena, though, so i know they exist.
I stayed in a Ramada Inn near the Titans stadium called (appropriately) Ramada Inn at the Stadium, about a mile or so away from the arena. I could have walked it if push came to shove, and the area's safe enough even at night, but we opted not to. Truth be told, we'd've gotten back to the hotel faster if we had, thanks to traffic direction fail. There are closer hotels, but I paid half what I would have paid for the Renaissance Hotel and got a clean and decent room - if the halls were a little shabby, it was okay. Breakfast was nothing special but there's a Shoney's next door if the continental breakfast doesn't appeal.
A slightly fuzzy shot of the entrance, but it's what I was able to get given I was shooting off my iPhone and the light was fading. It's a nice arena with great sightlines, a wide open concourse, and a wide variety of concessions. I got a meatball sub from the Food Network kiosk, and it was tasty enough, despite me not being hungry. They did also sell coffee, tea, and hot chocolate, thankfully - it was really cold in the arena. (I approve, but I was still cold.) The staff reminded me of the staff at RBC Arena - friendly, with a touch of southern, but I did get some crap from the guys at the front when I refused the giveaway magnet. (My main hockey superstition - I don't accept giveaways in any arena - but they didn't need to know that.)
That didn't keep the ice from being funky, though. There were huge ruts in the corners, as if whoever cut the ice dug grooves into it. You might have noticed the puck flipping and bouncing all over creation - well, it was. They turned down the AC in the area sometime during the second, and the ice did seem to improve to some degree. Interestingly, the seats on the glass are at the dasher level in this arena. Made it slightly easier to see.
In-game entertainment was fun. I loved their mascot's entrance - from the ceiling. Their ice girls are scantily clad and skate, which had me yawning but the guys liked it. The Caps' video staff leaves theirs in the dust, though. Their entrance video would have been awesome if the music wasn't a split second off of the video at the end. It messed up the effect. And their "make noise" videos don't hold a candle to Unleash the Fury. Sorry, they just don't. Music was enh - a lot more 80's hairbands and pop (Eurhythmics? Really?) and less hard rock. I was just glad it wasn't country.
The Fans: Lots of Caps fans. Road Crew and the Fan Club both came out for this one, and Nashville has their share of local Caps fans.
Preds fans are very average, I thought. A lot of the chants were the same stuff you see on the east coast in places like the Rock and Nassau Coliseum, including the ubiquitous "Hey - you suck!" goal chant. I'm really glad the Caps barn doesn't use that one. They had trouble getting names right, especially Neuvirth's - and their thing about shouting "ON THE POWER PLAY!" was lame-o, but at least they had the timing down on the announcer / board-led chants. There weren't a lot of spontaneous chants, but there were a few, mostly "Let's Go Preds" much like we do in the Phone Booth. Nice enough people - some were friendly, although less so than in other enemy barns I've been in. No beer poured on me, but I did get a lot of glares and a shouted "Fuck the Capitals!" in the parking lot getting out. Heh. In retrospect, I probably should have shouted back "Nice to see you're willing to reciprocate!" but never mind. The best responses always come too late.
Oh and ... announcer fail. HHBL's last name is not pronounced Lay-ch. Thank you.
Overall Verdict: Not bad. I enjoyed the trip. I'd go again, though I will probably save my cash for barns I haven't been to yet given a choice. Fun to do once and perfectly safe to take your kids, but it didn't knock my socks off.