Sports Authority OKs arena upgrades

Updated Demonbreun plaza, new restaurants slated for October opening

The Metropolitan Sports Authority today gave its final approval to a renovation plan for the south side of Bridgestone Arena.

Set for an October completion, the project — designed by sports architecture giant Populous — will create a plaza on the Demonbreun Street side of the building, opening up the SoBro facility to the Music City Center campus.

"We are using our building as a conduit between the new campus and the excitement of Broadway," said Sean Henry, Predators president. "This is a planned connection from Broadway to the Korean Veterans Boulevard."

Specifically, the arena's south entrance will be significantly modified, creating open space at the corner of Fifth Avenue South and Demonbreun. Two video boards — the one facing Demonbreun will be a prominent 16-by-20-feet — will be installed on the "barrel," the rehearsal hall at the southeast corner of the building. That barrel will also include LED lighting and graphics boards running 130 feet along the building's wall facing Fifth.

A pro shop will be accessible from the street (unlike the current main pro shop inside the building) and adjacent to a street-level pub along the plaza, straddling the existing parking garage.

A second restaurant on the Fifth Avenue side will connect that street with the arena's concourse.

Also, there are numerous shell spaces available for future private investment, officials said.

"We wanted to create a destination and communal congregation experience, a second front door and huge impactor with what's going on across the street," Populous architect Adam Stover said.

Henry said the arena will remain open for business during construction, which should begin in the next several weeks.

Mayor Karl Dean's mid-year capital spending plan included $7 million for exterior renovations at Bridgestone Arena.