Bible Belt Hockey: Comparing Game Experiences in Dallas and Nashville

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

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As someone who has lived in both Dallas and Nashville, I can appreciate how each city loves and celebrates its hockey club. The two teams may be bitter division rivals in the midst of a playoff battle, but it's Easter Sunday and we are in between playoff game days so let's set aside our current hostility and see how the Predators game experience at Bridgestone Arena compares to a Stars game at the American Airlines Center.

Traffic and Transportation

Dallas has more car traffic, Nashville has more foot traffic, but DART and the TRE really separate Dallas here. The two Texas transportation services give Stars fans an easy way to travel to and from the American Airlines Center. If you are coming from out of town, Dallas also gives you two airport options with Love Field in Dallas or DFW Airport.

Advantage - Dallas

Pre-Game Festivities

Outside of Vegas, it is tough to top Nashville when it comes to entertainment before the game. From smashing a car painted with the logo of their opponent to live music inside and outside the arena to celebrity anthem singers, Nashville is always ready to put on a show.

Advantage - Nashville

In-Game Entertainment

While the Preds have the stars of country music on their side, the Stars have earned quite the reputation around the league for their in-game entertainment. The Stars typically trend a handful of times during the hockey season with humorous pop culture messages on their video board. Plus, there is no one else in the league like Michael Gruber, who plays timely drops and makes clever musical choices throughout the game.

Advantage - Dallas

Comfort and Commodities

Dallas has a clear advantage here with a newer facility. The seats at the American Airlines Center are bigger, the suites are nicer, and the building offers unique spots like the Platinum Club and the Old No. 7 Club.

Advantage - Dallas

The Building

While the American Airlines Center has more amenities, Bridgestone Arena has a throwback feel to it that is appealing and reminds you of Reunion Arena. The building has lower ceilings that help create a louder sound and fewer seats giving fans a slightly better view from the upper deck.

Advantage - Nashville

The Crowd

This really is all about preference because the Dallas crowd and the Nashville crowd have very little in common. The Nashville crowd is younger and creates a college football game type of atmosphere. The constant chants about how everyone sucks is funny at first but does get annoying over the course of a game or playoff series. Meanwhile, Dallas reminds you more of a high school football crowd: ice girls are the cheerleaders, instead of a halftime show you typically get an entertainer or competition on the ice during intermission, and many in the stands communicate like parents might yell at their high school student-athletes with simple verbal commands like "shoot it" and "hit him." Dallas also has the controversial "Stars" yell during the national anthem, which is a hit on home ice but fairly unpopular on the road. Nashville currently has a reputation for being the louder building but Stars fans were plenty loud in Games 3 and 4. All of these words and no clear winner.

Advantage - Push

Post-Game Possibilities

No offense to Victory Park, but Nashville wins this category in a landslide. Bridgestone Arena was brilliantly designed so fans walk out of the building and land right on Broadway where you have an unlimited number of bars, restaurants, live music venues, and more.

Advantage - Nashville

These two cities may be enemies right now but I recommend Stars fans going to a game in Nashville. Even if you hate country music, I think you will enjoy your time in Music City. And if you are a Preds fan, check out the American Airlines Center sometime too. These are two southern, warm-weather cities who have created unique experiences for ice hockey fans all over the world.

Pretty impressive considering neither team even had a local hockey rink before 1993.

Six Fun Facts Ahead of Game 6

  • Dallas has won five of seven games with Mats Zuccarello in its lineup averaging 3.71 goals per game. Zuccarello has four goals and six points in those seven games. For comparison, the Stars averaged 2.56 goals per game in the regular season, playing 80 of 82 games without Zuccarello.

  • Ben Bishop's save percentage in the regular season was .934; Bishop's save percentage through five playoff games is .935.

  • Pekka Rinne's save percentage in the regular season was .918; Rinne's save percentage through five playoff games is .883.

  • Nashville defenseman Mattias Ekholm committed only 21 minor penalties in 80 regular season games this year (0.26 minors per game); Ekholm has committed six minor penalties through five playoff games (1.2 minors per game).

  • Nashville forward Rocco Grimaldi scored five goals in 53 regular season games; Grimaldi has three goals in four playoff games.

  • The Stars scored five goals in consecutive games only once this season: in Game 4 and Game 5 of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Brian Roe writes about the Dallas Stars at The Roe Report. He spent five years working for the Stars and has previously been a contributor at Hockey's Future, The Hockey Writers, NHL Intel, and more. Follow Brian on Twitter @brianproe.

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