photo from: nashvilleexperience.com
Bridgestone Arena, home of the Nashville Predators houses one of the best atmospheres in professional sports. While almost every one of those 17,113+ fans has a common goal- to see their Predators get a win, there are different kinds of fans, and if you have been to Preds game in Nashville any number of times you have encountered some or all of these factions of fans. Chances are you are a member of one. You probably just don't realize it. Here are the types of fans I see at Bridgestone Arena. Feel free to add your comments below!
Note: This article is not intended to offend. I love all fans at Bridgestone Arena. Well, all Preds fans anyway.
First, let's look at "family fans." The title speaks for itself. These fans come as a family for one, two or three games in a season. They will likely sit in the lower rows of the upper level in order to avoid the high prices of the lower level and the crazies of the upper rows. The pros of being close to a family is that you'll avoid the expletives and screaming. The cons are that the family will often consist of at least one small child, which means a lot of getting up in the middle of the game. I recently sat behind a family at a game and had to move. After they had passed down about $200 worth of food, there was whining and moving going on constantly.
Fashion Statement Fans
Now if you turn your attention to the upper rows of the lower bowl or, in some cases, a suite you will find what I call "fashion statement fans." I can only assume these people are Predators fans. Maybe yellow isn't these people's color. These fans will don trendy clothes in the arena for a reason beyond me. Why would you not where Predators clothes or at least the Predators' colors to the game. It's as if they have a photo session for the cover of GQ during intermission. A pro is that they won't be negative about the time and scream the whole time. A con is that during the game, they likely won't be anything about the team.
@ryantshannon Guy next to me, lower bowl, kept talking about gosspiy "he said she said" stuff the whole time to his GF. Wasn't even watching
— Sean Smyth (@PREDSmyth) April 18, 2013
You can find "star-struck fans" just about anywhere in the arena, which makes them a unique breed. These types of fans can be identified on the glass during pre-game warmups as the girls asking a Preds player to marry her via poster board and permanent marker. As the player skates by, he briefly makes eye-contact with the girl, which of course means, "Yes, I will marry you." The "star-struck fan" either has her fantasy husband's replica jersey or the super-creepy, custom jersey with "Mrs. (Insert Preds player's last name here)" on the name plate. The pros of these fans is that they will most likely be paying attention to the game and won't say anything terribly negative about the team. The con is that they will scream every time their favorite player has the puck.
@ryantshannonthis chick behind me yells "I love u nick" EVERY damn time Spaling goes on the ice.Mannnnn that gets on my nerves
— Al Barman (@bluesbrotherjak) April 18, 2013
@webleedgold @ryantshannon I had one this season sitting next to me..being negative about everything about the game, players, etc. (1/3)
— Amy D. (@AmyPredsfan) April 19, 2013
@webleedgold @ryantshannonHad to watch the rest of the games outside the rink because of him. I hate negative people & screamers. :/ (3/3)
— Amy D. (@AmyPredsfan) April 19, 2013
Every team deserves some critique (especially this year's Predators), but some people take it to the extreme. The critical fan will cheer a Sergei Kostitsyn shot the same way a kid from the family fans will cheer the arrival of a cotton candy vendor to his section. They will often yell "shoot" on a Predators power play. Nothing an individual player, the team, the coaching staff or the front office does will ever satisfy these fans. Generally, the more knowledgeable critics will be in the upper-level, and the odd critiques will come from the lower-level. Brandon, a Preds fan said, "Almost came to blows with the STH who sits behind me at the clinching game against det last year because he is one who is always dogging Kevin Klein. About had it with him this year." Now, I'm not the biggest Kevin Klein supporter, but when your negativity gets this bad, it affects the experience of others. On the lower-bowl side of things, I recently heard a fan leaving Bridgestone complain that the front office was not spending enough money on goaltending. Really. Pro: They pay attention to the game. Con: May annoy fans around them with their negativity. I admittedly am sometimes in this group.
"Here for the Party" Fans
Research is still in the infant stages on this category of fan. The amount of games each season these fans attend has yet to be determined and the location of these fans is spread out across the arena. It is clear that these fans most likely cannot name five current NHL players that are neither current nor former Nashville Predators. These fans will make comments such as "Didn't we trade Shea Weber to that one team?", "Isn't Alex Rahjewloff coming back from Russia to play for us?" and "There better be a fight tonight!" At the games, their number one goal is to get on the megatron or start the wave. Pro: sometimes funny. Con: most of the time not funny and could potentially obstruct your enjoyment of the actual game.
Didn't see the goal because #beardo RT @ryantshannon: rage tweet coming from @jrlind
— J.R. Lind (@jrlind) April 5, 2013
This is the category I find myself in most often. Certainly there are die-hards all around the arena, but I would say that there are a greater number of die-hards in the upper-bowl. These fans are particularly annoyed by the afore mentioned "'Here for the Party' Fans" (see above tweet). It's not that these fans don't have fun, but they are there for the on-ice action and the their other die-hard friends. They will turn their attention away from the game only to check Twitter for the local media's and blogger's opinion on the last Preds penalty kill. After losses in important games, these fans may take to Twitter to vent or slam the nearest empty seat and/or wall. They will make comments like "Man, that shift sure increased Jonathon Blum's trade value" and "No way am I putting this giveaway t-shirt on over my lucky jersey!" Pros: focused on the game, likely won't disrupt anyone. Cons: possibility of expletives (even from eight year olds) and too serious at times. Hockey is supposed to be fun, right?
We love that people love our city. And if they want to take in a hockey game great! There favorite team is playing against our beloved Preds? We'll manage. But there are some fans who are very disrespectful. Namely, fans of that team in Chicago...
@ryantshannon Best fans in the NHL.Only bad fan experience I have ever had at Bridgestone was when the rude,crude Blackhawks fans invaded.
— Adele Jones (@adelewjones) April 18, 2013
Last time the bandwagons rolled into Music City, Hawk fans had at least half of Bridgestone arena red. Hawk fans, during intermission were moving tables around in the concourse for a convenient meeting space as they drank their weight in beer. They really thought they owned the place. That kind of arrogance is never tolerated in Nashville.
There are some exceptions of course- even amongst the Blackhawk fans. Many fans are respectful, refraining from taunting our team in our own arena and singing "Chelsea Dagger" after a Hawks win. Many fans come to take in the culture of the town and enjoy watching their hockey team peacefully. We welcome these fans.
While we have our differences, we are all one big dysfunctional family 17,113 strong. Go Preds!
Feel free to leave comments on my categories or mention a different category of fans you notice at Bridgestone Arena.