Home to the Nashville Predators, the Bridgestone Arena has become an iconic anchor of our downtown skyline. The venue seats more than 17,000 for hockey games, but has the capability to expand to 20,000 for other events. It's also a regular site for large concerts. In the next few months alone, acts such as Billy Joel and Elton John, Coldplay, Keith Urban and Metallica will make a stop at the multifaceted venue. The Bridgestone Arena has been a DES customer since 1996, when the building was opened. We recently sat down with Terry McConnell to discuss his role as director of operations at the Bridgestone Arena.
What is your role as director of operations at the Bridgestone Arena? How long have you been in your current position?
I direct and supervise personnel involved in operating, monitoring, repairing and maintaining the facility's lighting and electrical distribution, HVAC, fire system, emergency power system, and other systems as required for the safe and efficient operation of the facility. I will begin my seventh hockey season this fall.
What did you do prior to working at the Bridgestone Arena?
I worked for Dalcor Management based out of Huntsville, Ala. My job position was maintenance manager for Dalcor Properties in north Alabama.
What's the most challenging part of your job?
Our event schedule is very demanding. Converting the space for hockey games, concerts, basketball games and other events can be challenging on a tight schedule. Fortunately, we have a very talented staff, and with the support of outside vendors and contractors we're able to facilitate the seamless transition from one event to the next. Coordinating and maintaining the logistics for the completion of each task is the most challenging aspect. Our patrons are our business, and when the doors open we must be on our “A” game.
Does DES provide steam and chilled water, or just chilled water, to the Bridgestone Arena?
The arena has been online with DES since opening, and we have used both steam and chilled water from day one.
Does the ice used for Predators games affect the amount of chilled water DES provides?
Yes, it does. In order to maintain the 60 degree ambient temperature and 40 percent relative humidity for hockey games, our consumption of chilled water is tremendous.
DES has been able to provide some of the lowest chilled water prices in the nation over the past year. Have you noticed any benefits?
The DES customer service meetings are very informative. The presentation concerning utility expense and how the market affects the cost of steam and chilled water production really opened up our eyes as to how well DES has managed utility costs delivered to the Bridgestone Arena, and we've certainly noticed the benefits.
The proposed downtown convention center is moving forward. How will that affect the Bridgestone Arena, if at all?
I believe the proposed convention center will have a positive impact on the Bridgestone Arena as well as the downtown business community. It should be an economic engine for the whole SoBro area, and could give us an opportunity to book more events. We could also see an increase in attendance at hockey games and other events as a result of more convention visitors.
Has the weakening economy had an effect on the number and size of events held at the Bridgestone Arena?
Fortunately, the Bridgestone Arena has maintained a very busy schedule. Our management team has done an excellent job of continuing to book events. Whether it's family shows, concerts or sporting events, Middle Tennessee has a wide selection of entertainment choices to choose from at the Bridgestone Arena.
What do you do when you're not on the clock?
I have two teenage boys. We enjoy outdoor activities such as riding ATVs, camping, hunting and fishing.