Nashville Predators: Outdoor NHL Hockey is Finally Coming to Music City

The Dallas Stars and the Nashville Predators face off against each other during the 2020 Winter Classic hockey game at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, TX. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
The Dallas Stars and the Nashville Predators face off against each other during the 2020 Winter Classic hockey game at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, TX. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

It was inevitable that the Nashville Predators would eventually host an outdoor NHL game, and it’s now become official with the 2022 Navy Federal Credit Union NHL Stadium Series.

In February of 2022 the Nashville Predators wills host the Tampa Bay Lightning at Nissan Stadium, marking the first outdoor NHL game ever in the city of Nashville. Yet another chance for the city to show itself off on the national stage as the place to be for major sports events.

The game will occur on February 26, which is actually a little later in the month than I’d like considering that Nashville temperatures can definitely start getting rather mild that time of year.

This is almost certainly a precursor to Nashville hosting a Winter Classic, the real deal. After the showing that Nashville Predators fans had in the 2020 Winter Classic as the road team against the Dallas Stars at the enormous Cotton Bowl, it only seemed appropriate that they host a Stadium Series event in the near future.

The opponent, the drama, and the party

If you’ve still never made it to Nashville, it’s the perfect place to have fun before a game as the city is very centralized and the pedestrian bridge gives easy access to Nissan Stadium from Nashville’s world famous Lower Broadway.

Could you have it any other way than to pit the Predators up against what could possibly end up being the two-time defending Stanley Cup Champions? There were a few other opponents I’d rather see them host, with the two biggest ones being the Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins.

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Seeing a rematch of the 2017 Stanley Cup Final would be entertaining, and the Blackhawks always bring a massive fanbase to Nashville homes games. Other teams that would be a more interesting opponent are the St. Louis Blues ( growing regional rivalry) and the Dallas Stars (rematch of the Winter Classic and another growing rivalry).

With that being said, I do understand slotting Tampa Bay in there as the opponent. The NHL is starting to get more Southern teams involved in these outdoor games, and moving away from the same traditional markets every year, which I can appreciate.

Wildly enough, this will be the first outdoor regular season game that the Lightning have ever been in, making them the 27th team overall to experience this.

This is announcement doesn’t come without drama, of course. The Carolina Hurricanes were originally supposed to host the next Stadium Series this past season, but the COVID-19 pandemic and altered NHL schedule messed that up.

I understand the frustration from Hurricanes fans that they’ve been skipped over to a degree, but they’ll definitely get one in the near future, and should get one in 2023. Wait one more year, you’ll be fine.

You can’t help but be intrigued on what the city will cook up to make this event a huge splash for the city and the fans. The Tennessee Titans are the main team that play at Nissan Stadium, but you also have Nashville SC of the MLS who play their home games at Nissan Stadium.

Expect the Titans and Nashville SC to get plenty involved in marketing this event, and maybe even some cool jersey concepts to come out of this.

CEO and President of the Nashville Predators Sean Henry shared some of his excitement about the event coming to Nashville, via WSMV in Nashville:

"“Thank you Smashville for making our city the choice for another marquee event! Excited to partner with the Titans to bring this about and make it bigger and better than any hosted yet”"

There’s only been 11 Stadium Series games held, with the first one in 2014 between the LA Kings and Anaheim Ducks at Dodger Stadium. The road team has won six of the contests, with the Kings getting the most recent win in 2020 over the Colorado Avalanche.

I’m sure the Tampa Bay Lightning faithful will make the rather easy trip up to Nashville and be represented strongly, which will be on a Saturday. Go ahead and get in on Friday, or even Thursday, and take in all of what Nashville has to offer.

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We have no clue what the Predators roster will look like at this point, or honestly even if the Lightning will still be as dominant as they are now. But one thing is for certain, the energy will be intense and I can’t wait to see outdoor NHL hockey with the Nashville skyline in the background at Nissan Stadium.