While the Predators are out of town, the Smashville fan base has descended on the Nashville bar scene.
Autumn Allison/USA TODAY NETWORK-Tennessee

Country music, catfish, craft beer, slapshots, moonshine. Nashville’s bar scene, like the rest of the city, has embraced the rise of the Predators to the highest echelons of hockey with varying degrees of innovation.  

Down at the heart of Nashville’s tourist district In Lower Broadway, thousands of Predators fans have come to watch the games at public viewing parties around Bridgestone Arena. A few blocks away, gold “Stand With Us” banners fly among the neon glowing signs of the honky-tonks.  

Known for loud, live country music and bachelorette parties, the Broadway bars are now flooded with jersey-clad hockey fans. Some establishments like Tin Roof have done away with live music during the game and gone all-in on the Preds. Others like Honky Tonk Central gave fans both music and sports, with artists doing country covers while anxious fans watched the hockey action on TVs set up throughout the bar.

“Sometimes it’s a little tricky, but I’m a Preds fan, too, so half the time I’m watching the game, too,” musician Corey Wagar said in between her sets at Honky Tonk Central Wednesday night.  

It’s not just the bright lights of Broadway that are packing in Preds fans. Nashville’s hockey enthusiasts are filling any seat they can find. As long as it serves booze and has at least one functioning TV.

Piranha’s, the unofficial Pittsburgh sports bar in Nashville, is located two blocks away from the main Broadway drag. While the imitation Primanti Bros. sandwiches keep the bar full, their staff is expecting lines out the door when the Stanley Cup Final action comes to Music City on Saturday. 

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“We are so excited to bring the best of both worlds here. We have people banging on our door and calling about reservations. There will not be an empty seat in the house,” said Piranha’s staffer Mandy Brazzle.

Farther away from the epicenter of Nashville hockey, official Predators bar Tailgate Beer in Bellevue is not as rowdy as other sports bars. Kids in Preds gear run around as their parents watch the games. Tailgate had fans packing the brewery for every regular-season game but now with the Preds playing in the Stanley Cup Final, more than 600 people have watched each game from three different projector screens. 

During Game 1, they went through 15 kegs of beer. 

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“The atmosphere is indescribable — everyone knows every chant like it’s a home game,” taproom General manager Ryan Bruchey said. “As a Preds fan, it’s a dream come true.” 

In East Nashville, Beyond the Edge is a haven for Predators fans. As the Penguins warmed up for Game 2, patrons instructed Pittsburgh’s captain Sidney Crosby to “Suck a catfish.” During home games, a stuffed catfish from regular Shaggy Momo is tossed at the TV, carrying on the now infamous rally catfish tradition. 

Tiffany Smith drives in from Hendersonville to go to Beyond the Edge because she says it’s the best bar with the best bartender.

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“Mike (Soebbing) is the best bartender in Nashville … He just comes up and talks to you and is friends with you in minutes,” Smith said. “This place is a family.”

General Manager Wendy Christopher says the fans drink beer like water, and she’s constantly in contact with her distributors for more. 

“Fortunately I have really good relationships with my beer reps because I’m literally calling them every other day going, ‘I need more kegs of beer, I need more cases of beer.’ Because there are only so many places you can put it and it’s like we have had 17 mini Super Bowls in here,” she said. 

As the Predators get ready for their first Stanley Cup Final home game in franchise history on Saturday, hundreds, if not thousands of more fans are expected to pack the bars all over Nashville.

The eyes of the sporting world will be on Music City, and the bars will continue to give their own unique spin on what they think is a proper hockey party. 


Reach Kirk A. Bado on Twitter @kirk_bado