EventPM Lets the Predators Loose on Nashville

by Mike Wharton
in Event Production
Fans on Broadway ready for Game 4.
Fans on Broadway ready for Game 4.

Crowd Takes Over Downtown Streets During Team’s Stanley Cup Run

Huge crowds descended upon downtown Nashville during the 30 days the Predators advanced through the NHL Western Conference, with hockey fever building to a frenzy during the 2017 Stanley Cup Finals series in early June. All that took placed in late May and early June, during one of Nashville’s busiest times of the year, with CMA Fest [June 8-11] and the CMT Awards [June 7] and related concerts happening around the same time. Fan fever pitch in the city streets was unlike anything the aptly nicknamed “Nash Vegas” had ever seen before.

Bridgestone Arena, site of Finals games three, four and six [June 3, 5 and 11], was at capacity, and the overflow crowd on the plaza outside the arena outgrew the viewing area allotted for the permanent LED screen in place that lets fans follow the game. Nashville’s city fathers turned to EventPM, a sister organization to Chris Lisle’s design company, CLLD LLC, for a solution.

Luke Bryan performs on Tootsies' rooftop before Game 6.

‡‡         Lots of Planning on Short Notice

Lisle and Erik Parker both handle the design side of the business, while Mark Anderson manages the event side of EventPM. With multiple full production load in/outs, several concerts and viewing areas spanning several city blocks, EventPM coordinated production for 12 viewing parties over the course of the run between May 12 and June 11.

“We, as a company, work a lot with the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation (NCVC),” says Anderson, particularly with David Spencer, vice president of events, and Marion Warfield, director of events. Most events can be planned far in advance, but with the Predators, “there was no way to know how far the team was going to go,” says Anderson, “so the trigger for what happened next was pulled at the end of each game.”

The NCVC caught on to the excitement level mounting about the series and realized they needed to expand viewing sites beyond the plaza screen at Bridgestone to accommodate the crowds, he adds. “They contacted us to help manage the production side of things. It all started with just one screen, some minimal lighting to put the team colors on buildings nearby and some additional P.A.”

However, it was just two days before the first game when they got the call. EventPM hit the ground running to pull the details together. “As we progressed through the Western Conference finals, the crowds just kept growing. We really scrambled to pull the additional sites together,” Anderson says.

EventPM generated site maps with the various production elements and worked with the NCVC to incorporate site infrastructure (barricades, food/beverage vendors, etc.) as well. The NCVC then used these maps to coordinate street closure permits, police, medical and fire department. “Typically we have months of planning going into getting this size of event planned. These events all had to come together in a matter of days,” says Anderson.

Preds Score!

‡‡         Partners Provide an Assist

EventPM coordinated with selected production vendors of the member-based NCVC, which, throughout these events, included Moo TV, Morris, Accurate Staging, Sunbelt Rentals (power, equipment and scaffolding), G2 Mobile Structures and Brantley. “We work closely with the project leads of each respective vendor to coordinate and oversee the overall build. Crew One Production provided labor on all our events. They were so busy between CMA Fest and Bonnaroo [both held June 8-11] that they ended up needing to bring in staff from Atlanta and Memphis to fill some of our calls towards the end of May.”

As the crowds grew at different locations, the event organizers were often tasked with repositioning staging and screens to accommodate wider viewpoints. Parts of the shuffle were prompted by the fire department to meet their safety requirements, creating lanes and establishing new perimeters.

“With games three and four of the Stanley Cup Final being the first home games, the site shifted again. We brought in a mobile stage for those games [June 3 and 5] which also became the stage for the Alan Jackson concert and a previously planned concert for Music City Gives Back,” says Anderson. “This was loaded out post game four, and the site was reworked yet again.”

‡‡         Quick on their Feet

The fact that the city streets were sharing space for the various CMA Fan Fest events throughout Nashville added to the pressure, and the need for frequent restaging, raising questions over who had the right of way. Festivities for all these events on the main drag in Nashville Broadway ended up being activated from 1st Avenue all the way to 5th Avenue.

With CMA, CMT and the Bonnaroo Festival loading in simultaneously, meanwhile, inventory at Moo TV, Morris, and Accurate Staging was depleted. “The NCVC asked us to put screens in various locations around the city. These were beyond what EventPM were managing,’ says Devin Cundall, VP of mobile technology at Moo TV. “By the end of the series, we had an additional six different walls strategically located around the city. Andrew Burnett, our project manager, coordinated a massive undertaking on our part with changes taking place almost hourly, shuffling six or seven different venues at any given time. We had almost five miles of fiber runs in downtown Nashville, with feeds to the CMA site and Ascend Amphitheater. We had over 64 projects running during games 3 and 4.”

EventPM turned to Brantley, another NCVC member, for their camera platforms, media stages and the last few rabbits out of their hat, since every game day required additional elements to existing sites.

By game six of the Stanley Cup finals [June 11], when all resources were stretched to capacity and practically every single person in Nashville could catch every move made on the ice, a televised rooftop performance with Luke Bryan came up. The country star, who counts himself as a major Predators fan, helped launch NBC’s broadcast of the Sunday night game with a performance atop the roof of the well-known honky-tonk, Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, next to the Ryman Auditorium.

“We received confirmation two days before which, given the immediacy of everything else going on, could almost be considered as a lot of time under these circumstances,” Anderson jokes. “All our production vendors really stepped up and made it happen while working with the NHL, NBC and Luke Bryan’s camp.”

Though Game Six proved to be a heartbreaker in Nashville — the Predators did not bring the cup home — they have garnered not just a city but also a nation of fans. Looking back on the success of the run and the events generated, Anderson adds, “I really have to say all of the vendors and techs involved were absolutely pivotal to the success of these events.”

Vendors and Crew

Event Producer (EventPM Client) - Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation

  • Butch Spyridon - President / CEO
  • Deana Ivey - Chief Marketing Officer
  • David Spencer - Vice President, Events
  • Marion Warfield - Director of Events

Production Vendors

  • Morris Light and Sound - Lighting and sound with technicians
  • MooTV - LED Screen, technicians and Fiber/Signal Infrastructure
  • G2 Mobile - SAM555 for Stanley Cup Games 3 & 4
  • Crew One - Stagehands, Riggers, Equipment Operators
  • Brantley - Stanley Cup Games Staging support (Camera Risers, Media Risers, Platforms for LED Screens, Staging for Luke Bryan rooftop performance)
  • Accurate - Western Conference Finals - Platforms for LED Screens
  • Sunbelt Power - Generators/Cable Ramps for Production and Street Vendors for all games in addition to on-site technicians for Stanley Cup Games
  • Sunbelt Rentals - Forklifts, Scissor Lifts, Shooting Booms, Work lights
  • Sunbelt Scaffolding - Towers for Audio delays

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