An Open Letter to Predators Fans
By: Miranda Martin
Dear Nashville Predators fans,
The last time that the Chicago Blackhawks visited Bridgestone Arena, I wrote an open letter to Blackhawks fans with some simple guidelines to a fun hockey game that wouldn’t get anyone’s knickers in a twist. After a frustrating Saturday afternoon game, I believe it’s time for another.
Everyone knows by now that I am a Nashville fan as well as a Chicago fan. I’ve been watching the Blackhawks since 2005 when I visited Chicago and learned about the team’s history. It was a new experience to me to see the history of a team, since the Predators weren’t even a decade old. I get a lot of criticism for my fandom with a division rival. In fact, I specifically see disapproval from Nashville fans, as if I’m “cheating” on the team. And today, I found myself a little disappointed.
It was a beautiful day for an intense and fun hockey game in Nashville. And, as expected, there were thousands of Blackhawks fans that were in attendance. Many of them drove down from the suburbs of the greater Chicago area to enjoy a mini-vacation. And while many Hawks fans had a grand ol’ time enjoying the weather and their cup-contending team, many Preds fans took to sulking that their arena was taken over.
It was a very hard fought game by both teams, and no one can be truly disappointed with the effort made by the Nashville Predators against one of the more prominent Stanley Cup contenders. Similar to last Monday’s game against Chicago, it was constantly a close game. Honestly, without the defensive error that led to the first goal, we could have been looking at yet another shootout.
But, of course, this isn’t the highlight of the Predators game. No one’s talking about the missed opportunities by the Predators on the 4 minute power play, where Chicago almost had the same amount of chances. No. Many Preds fans are taking this opportunity to trash the fanbase that spent their hard-earned money to support our local economy. And many of the comments were unwarranted and disappointing.
So here are four simple guidelines to making sure that these games don’t demolish two different fan bases in the future, considering Chicago will likely be the main rival from this next season on:
1) Leave it on the ice and be a good host. Most of the Blackhawks fans have traveled from 400-500 miles for this trip. Many of them are going to be spending tons of money on food, drinks, and hospitality/tourism in OUR economy, even though their economy is struggling just as much. But if Blackhawks fans want to watch their team, many really don’t have a choice but to travel. To put things into perspective: there are approximately 22,000 seats available in the United Center for the greater Chicago area, whose population is about 9 million people. Less than one half of a percent of the population can go to a Blackhawks game. That’s like making the Predators play in Centennial Sportsplex for 41 games. A ticket for a Chicago Blackhawks game in the lowerbowl ranges from $200-450 at face value when tickets go on sale in August. Twenty minutes later when 80% of the season is sold out, venues like StubHub and Ticket Exchange have lower bowl tickets for double face value. Tickets in the lower bowl at Nashville are approximately $95 per game and won’t sell out overnight. So they make a simple weekend vacation out of it with the extra money they save. Coming in droves saves money in total, and it’s fairly respectable. Nashville is known for their hospitality, but if Preds fans instigate rude, unwelcoming remarks, not only will they quit attending games in Nashville, they may decide not to make a future trip as a family, not a fan.
2) Stop talking about the bandwagon. The Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup three years ago. Several fans have been around for 5-6 years now. They just went half of this shortened NHL season without a regulation loss. Of COURSE they are going to have new fans. But new fans do not always mean bandwagoners. I’d honestly argue that the Predators have a pretty large bandwagon fan base from the past 2-3 years of success. How many people actually recognized former Predator Rem Murray in his appearance at the arena Saturday? Many fans who haven’t been around for a decade wont know who he is—does that make them bandwagon fans? Complaining about the Toews and Kane jerseys? Look at all of the Weber and Rinne jerseys. Does that make every fan with one of those jerseys a bandwagoner? It doesn’t matter what kind of fan they are. If they’re willing to pay the money, they’re a fan. Leave it to the diehard Blackhawks fans to push them off the wagon.
3) Buy the tickets first. Guys, by now you know this is going to happen when Chicago visits. When the season comes out, mark the dates and save the money. Buy the tickets the day they go on sale before the Blackhawks fans do (and they will be fighting for them on the same day.) Can’t make it? Sell them to your Preds fan friend. This game has been sold out since February, just a matter of weeks after the season started. This can’t be a last minute effort. It starts in September when the tickets go on sale. It’s either that or making our tickets so expensive that none of us can afford them.
4) Learn to live with it. It’s simple as that. Live with it or do something about it. Don’t like all the red? Talk to your friends about getting tickets in September. Frustrated that their fans are bragging about a Cup from three years ago? After 49 years without a Stanley Cup, you would, too. Don’t look for trouble—that makes us no better. There was a rare mid-game fan fight earlier this season with a Sharks fan. If there had been just one of those today, there would have been a mass uproar targeting the fan base as a whole. I don’t see anyone trying to call the entire Sharks fanbase classless. Passive aggressive tweets and droning about them acting like normal fans does not make Nashville better. In fact, it makes the Predators look like a whiny, entitled fanbase. Go and enjoy the game. Ignore the fans, cheer for your own team, and get over it.
Now, of course, these comments don’t reflect all the Preds fans, just as all the Blackhawks fans aren’t a bunch of “classless” ninnies. There were a handful of accounts of rudeness from the opposing fan base, but it wasn’t a majority effort. Many intentions were not directed at “let’s troll the Preds fans.” Most of their fans were too busy reveling in their team’s play, the beautiful weather, and the Nashville experience to really start any altercations.
This season has been rough on Preds fans. Maybe we need a scapegoat to vent about, but does that really need to be another fanbase? There were already the rude remarks on Phoenix fans earlier this season which were unwarranted as well. There has to be a little establishment of respect for fan bases of any team or else the Predators fans become “those” fans that no one respects. If you’re nice to them, they’ll likely be nice to you. It’s that elementary. The Blackhawks/Predators rivalry is only going to get more intense from here, so we might as well start being civil about it.
Besides, isn’t that the “golden” rule?
A fan who comes to watch the game, not the fanbase.