The no voice for days, face paint for hours, cheers that fill the stadium kind. Hail Mary’s. Three Pointers. Photo Finishes. Where the excitement makes you jump out of your seat and cross your fingers for a win. It’s not just a feeling, but something lives are centered around. There’s a lot of pride for the home teams of Tennessee.
Tennessee’s NBA team gets the FedexForum roaring every game as the Memphis Grizzlies battle for the championship each season (they made the NBA playoffs in 2015). They’ve been lighting up the court since 2010, dubbed the beginning of the Grit and Grind Era of the team. Grab a ticket to a game or several to feed off the energy of the fans as the Grizzlies hustle for wins. Celebrating its 14th season in 2018, the FedExForum has become one of the best arenas in the NBA as it’s home to the Memphis Grizzlies, the University of Memphis Tigers and has presented 10 NBA Playoff series.
When the Nashville Predators made it to the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, beating some of the top teams and quickly becoming a Cinderella story, they (and the thousands of die-hard fans) made Nashville a hockey town. Not only was Bridgestone Arena sold out for every home game, but the streets of downtown Nashville were flooded with fans in their yellow jerseys, all part of a community known as Smashville. Though the Predators were defeated by the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 6, their fervent fans still have Predators pride, hailed as some of the best NHL fans around. In the midst of their 20th season in 2018, the Nashville Predators have made great progress this year, winning 44 games so far and currently ranked as No. 1 in the central division of the Western Conference, and No. 2 in the league.
Hear the roar of fans as the Tennessee Titans take the field during the 99th NFL season beginning Sept. 6, 2018. The Titans’ 2017 season ended with the Titans in a strong second place in the AFC South division. They won the Wildcard for the 2017 Playoffs against the Kansas City Chiefs, but had to hang up their helmets after losing to the New England Patriots. Fans are hoping the Tennessee Titans can keep the momentum going straight to the Super Bowl in their 20th season as a Tennessee team.
Minor League Baseball
Tennessee is home to nine Triple-A affiliate baseball teams: Chattanooga Lookouts, Elizabethton Twins, Johnson City Cardinals, Kingsport Mets, Greeneville Astros, Tennessee Smokies, West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx, Memphis Redbirds, and the Nashville Sounds. The Chattanooga Lookouts, the Triple-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, delighted fans last season when they were No. 1 in the Southern League North division. The Nashville Sounds have been hitting home runs since relocating to First Tennessee Park in 2015.
Bristol Motor Speedway is famously known as the world’s fastest half-mile and nicknamed The Last Great Colosseum for its Roman-esque architecture and NASCAR short-track battles. Steep banks, all-concrete surface and stadium seating makes it a popular destination for fans and racers alike. One of the largest sports venues in the world, Bristol Motor Speedway hosts the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, the Food City 500 each April and the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race in August. In Bulls Gap, Tennessee, Volunteer Speedway is known as the world’s fastest dirt track with the 32-degree banks as racers log a 120 mph average speed lap.
College football is another statewide pastime with the University of Tennessee Volunteers in Knoxville entertaining and exciting crowds at Neyland Stadium, the sixth largest stadium in the world. Football fans can mark their calendars for the annual Liberty Bowl in Memphis, celebrating 60 years in 2018, in late December/early January, and the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl in Nashville, where the top SEC school takes on an ACC team three times and a Big Ten team three times in accordance with the a six-year agreement with the SEC.
Nashville often hosts the NCAA basketball tournament each March, bringing the best teams and their die-hard fans to the city. In 2018, the men’s tournament comes to town. Fans can cheer on their favorite college team March 16, 18 at Bridgestone Arena.
Tennessee also plays host to the top athletes in the world at famous fitness competitions like IRONMAN in Chattanooga which tests athletes in swimming, biking and running in Tennessee’s Scenic City; Mayhem for Mustard Seed Ranch hosted by “World’s Fittest Man” and four-time CrossFit Games champion Rich Froning in Cookeville; Bassmaster Elite; Heartland Anglers; and the American Fishing Tour National Championship at Old Hickory Lake. Marathon runners flock to the state to participate in races like the Rock n’ Roll Nashville Marathon, St. Jude Memphis Marathon, Seven Bridges Marathon in Chattanooga and the Knoxville Marathon.