Saturday, February 27, 2016

How to Be a New York Basketball Fan In Denver -- 2016 Edition

This coming Friday night, the Brooklyn Nets will visit Denver to play the Nuggets. The New York Knicks visit the following Tuesday.

The Nuggets are the 30th and last NBA team for which I had to do a Trip Guide. At the conclusion of this piece, the NBA will be done.

Why did I get the NBA done first, rather than the NHL, whose season ends a little sooner? Because there are 2 NBA teams in New York, and I don't have a preference for either (now that the Nets have abandoned New Jersey). In contrast, while the New York Tri-State Area has 3 teams, I don't like the Islanders and I hate the Rangers, so I only do this for the Devils. If I did it for all 3 teams -- e.g., "The Devils visit Denver on November 17. The Rangers do so on December 1, and the Islanders on January 22" -- the NHL would have been completed first.

At any rate, I still have to do updates of last year's pieces on the Pittsburgh Penguins, and both Florida teams, the Florida Panthers and the Tampa Bay Lightning; and never-before-done pieces on the Anaheim Ducks, Dallas Stars and San Jose Sharks.

The City of Denver, the State of Colorado, and indeed the entire Rocky Mountain region are still in the afterglow of the Denver Broncos' 3rd Super Bowl win. So they may be in a good mood, which is good for visitors.

Then again, it may be due to legalized pot. Regardless, of all the reasons the trip might be stressful, the locals are not likely to add much to it.

Before You Go. The Denver Post is predicting high 50s for Friday afternoon, and high 30s for the evening. Although the mountain air leads to a lot of snow, no precipitation of any kind is forecast for this week.

Denver is in the Mountain Time Zone, so you’ll be 2 hours behind New York time. And there’s a reason it’s called the Mile High City: The elevation means the air will be thinner. Although the Rocky Mountain region is renowned for outdoor recreation, if you’re not used to it, try not to exert yourself too much. Cheering at a sporting event shouldn’t bother you too much, but even if the weather is good, don’t go rock-climbing or any other such activity unless you’ve done it before and know what you’re doing.

Tickets. The Nuggets are averaging 14,076 fans per game, dead last in the NBA. At 73.5 percent of capacity, they're ahead of only the Philadelphia 76ers and the Minnesota Timberwolves. This has led to talk of the Nuggets, the 2nd-oldest major league sports team in the Rocky Mountain region (only the Broncos are older), having to move, although no plan has been publicly mentioned. Chances are, you can show up 5 minutes before tipoff, and buy any seat you can afford.

Nuggets tickets are among the cheapest in the NBA. Law of supply and demand, I suppose. Seats in the lower level are $128 between the baskets and $53 behind them. In the upper level, they're $28 between and just $20 behind.

Getting There. It’s 1,779 miles from Times Square in New York to downtown Denver. You’re probably thinking that you should be flying.

You can get a round-trip flight for Thursday morning, and buy it today, for a little over $800, depending on what time you want to fly. But it won’t be nonstop. While Stapleton International Airport (named for 1923-47 Mayor Benjamin F. Stapleton) was a major change-planes-here spot for going to the West Coast and Las Vegas, the new Denver International Airport isn’t. You want to fly there, you’ll have to change planes, most likely in either Chicago or Dallas.

Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited leaves Penn Station at 3:40 PM Tuesday, arrives at Union Station in Chicago at 9:45 AM Wednesday (that’s Central Time). The California Zephyr leaves Chicago at 2:00 PM Wednesday and arrives at Denver’s Union Station at 7:15 AM (Mountain Time) Thursday. The return trip would leave Denver at 7:10 PM Friday, arrive in Chicago at 2:50 PM Monday, leave Chicago at 9:30 PM Monday, and get back to New York at 6:35 PM Tuesday. The round-trip fare is $448.

Conveniently, Union Station is at 1700 Wynkoop Street at 17th Street, just 3 blocks from Coors Field. The front of the building is topped by a clock, framed by an old sign saying UNION STATION on top and TRAVEL by TRAIN on the bottom.
Greyhound allows you to leave Port Authority Bus Terminal at 4:00 PM Tuesday, and arrive at Denver at 10:50 AM on Thursday, a trip of just under 45 hours, without having to change buses. That 44:50 does, however, include layovers of 40 minutes in Philadelphia, an hour and a half in Pittsburgh, an hour in Columbus, an hour in Indianapolis, 2 hours in St. Louis, and half an hour in Salina, Kansas; plus half-hour meal stops in Pennsylvania, Illinois and Kansas. Round-trip fare is $422 -- not much cheaper than the train, which is better -- but you can get it for $338 on advanced-purchase. You can get a bus back at 7:10 PM Sunday and be back in New York at 3:50 PM Tuesday. The Denver Bus Center is at 1055 19th Street.

If you actually think it’s worth it to drive, get someone to go with you, so you’ll have someone to talk to, and one of you can drive while the other sleeps. You’ll be taking Interstate 80 most of the way, through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska, before taking Interstate 76 from Nebraska to Colorado, and then Interstate 25 into Denver. (An alternate route: Take the New Jersey and Pennsylvania Turnpikes to Interstate 70 and then I-70 through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and Colorado into downtown Denver. It won’t save you an appreciable amount of time over the I-80 route, though.)

If you do it right, you should spend about an hour and a half in New Jersey, 5 hours and 15 minutes in Pennsylvania, 4 hours in Ohio, 2 hours and 30 minutes in Indiana, 2 hours and 45 minutes in Illinois, 5 hours and 15 minutes in Iowa, 6 hours in Nebraska, and 3 hours and 15 minutes in Colorado. Including rest stops, and accounting for traffic (you’ll be bypassing Cleveland and Chicago, unless that’s where you want to make rest stops), we’re talking about a 40-hour trip.

Even if you’re only going for one game, no matter how you got there, get a hotel and spend a night. You’ll be exhausted otherwise. Trust me, I know: Trains and buses are not good ways to get sleep.

Once In the City. Founded in 1858 as a gold rush city, and named for James W. Denver, then Governor of the Kansas Territory, from which Colorado was separated, Denver is a State capital and city of 630,000 people, in a metro area of 3.2 million -- roughly the population of Brooklyn and Staten Island combined. It's easily the biggest city in, and thus the unofficial cultural capital of, the Rocky Mountain region.
The State House

Broadway is the main north-south drag, separating East addresses from West. But the northwestern quadrant of the street grid is at roughly a 45-degree angle from the rest of the city, and this area includes the central business district, Union Station and the ballpark.

The sales tax in the State of Colorado is 2.9 percent, however, the City of Denver adds a 3.62 percent sales tax, for a total of 6.52 percent. The Denver Post is a good paper, but don't bother looking for the Rocky Mountain News: It went out of business in 2009. Bus and light rail service in Denver is run by the Regional Transportation District (RTD), and goes for $2.25 for a single ride, and $6.75 for a DayPass.
Don't worry, the weather isn't forecast to look like this during your visit.
I chose this picture for the look of the train, not for the snow and wet streets.

Going In. The Pepsi Center -- the arena has always had that name since it opened -- is across Cherry Creek from downtown, about 2 miles northwest of City Hall. The intersection is 11th Street & Auraria Parkway, but the mailing address is 1000 Chopper Circle, in honor of Robert "Chopper" Travaglini, the beloved former trainer (and amateur sports psychologist) of the Nuggets, who share the arena with the NHL's Colorado Avalanche. It is 1 of 10 current arenas that is home to both an NBA team and an NHL team.

Chopper was actually a Jersey Boy, albeit from Woodbury on the Philly side. He died in 1999, age 77, right before the new arena opened. Chopper Circle is an extension of Wewatta Street.
Pepsi Center/Elitch Gardens station on the RTD light rail. If you're coming in that way, you'll probably enter from the west gate, the Grand Atrium. If you're driving, parking starts at just $5.00. The rink is laid out east-to-west, and the Avs attack twice toward the east end.
In addition to hosting the Avs and the Nugs, the Pepsi Center has also hosted NCAA Tournament basketball games, the NCAA's hockey "Frozen Four," and the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

Food. Being a “Wild West” city, you might expect Denver to have Western-themed stands with “real American food” at its arena. Being in a State with a Spanish name, in a land that used to belong to Mexico, you might also expect to have Mexican food. And you would be right on both counts.

Unfortunately, the team and arena websites don't include charts showing where the concession stands are. The arena website does mention specialty restaurants:

The Shock Top Lodge is a restaurant that seats 325 guests, 250 in the restaurant and 75 at the bar, and is open to all ticketholders.


The Land Rover Denver Club has seating for 125 and can accommodate over 300 in a lounge-like environment. Guests can enjoy a Colorado craft beer or specialty drink coupled with a chef-inspired dish without missing any of the action in the arena while watching on one of the 20 HD TVs positioned throughout the space. 
The Peak Pub House seats 236 patrons, and is available to suite holders, KeyBank Club Level ticket holders, the first row of rinkside, all courtside seat holders, and all patrons with 5 minutes remaining in the game.
Team History Displays. The Nuggets' banners are at the east end of the arena, and the Avalanche's banners at the west end. There are also banners for the Arena Football League's Colorado Mammoths -- which, like the Avs, the Nugs, MLS' Colorado Rapids, the NFL's newly-returned Los Angeles Rams, and English soccer's Arsenal Football Club, is owned by Walton of Walmart infamy in-law Stan Kroenke.

Despite the Nugs' long history, which will reach a 50th Anniversary next year, they have not had much success. Starting as the Denver Rockets in the American Basketball Association in 1967, then in 1974 adopting the name of an earlier NBA team called the Denver Nuggets, and joining the NBA after reaching the Finals in the last ABA season of 1976, they've won 17 Division titles: 1970, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1985, 1988, 2006, 2009 and 2010.

They have banners for those honors. But they didn't win an ABA title, and have reached the NBA Western Conference Finals only 3 times: 1978, 1985 and 2009. There are no banners for those.

They've retired 5 uniform numbers. From the 1976 ABA Finalists, there's 40, original Denver Rocket, forward Byron Beck; and 33, guard David Thompson. From the 1978 Conference Finalists, there's Thompson, and 44, center Dan Issel. From he 1985 Conference Finalists, there's Issel; 2, forward Alex English; and 432, for the number of coaching wins in Denver of head coach Doug Moe. No player from the 1990s onward has had his number retired, but the 55 of center Dikembe Mutombo is not currently being worn. Nor is the 7 of guard Carmelo Anthony, who led the Nuggets to the 2009 Conference Finals, and is now with the Knicks.
Thompson, Issel, English and Mutombo have been elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame. So have forward Spencer Haywod and guard Sarunas Marciulionis, but each of those spent just 1 season with the Nuggets.

UPDATE: This is now true for Allen Iverson as well. And the Nuggets have announced that Mutombo's Number 55 will be retired on October 29, 2016.

English, Thompson, Beck, Issel, Moe and Travaglini have been elected to the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, which is located at the new Broncos' stadium. No Nuggets players were named to the NBA's 50th Anniversary 50 Greatest Players, not even Issel, who, at his retirement, had scored more points than any pro basketball player except Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain). But Haywood, Thompson, Issel, and guards Warren Jabali (formerly Warren Armstrong) and Mack Calvin were named to the ABA All-Time Team.

Stuff. Altitude Athletics is located in the Grand Atrium at the arena's west end. It sells Avs, Nugs, Rapids and Mammoths merchandise -- but not the Rams or The Arsenal, as these teams are located nowhere near Denver. They may sell cowboy hats with team logos on them, to tie in with the State's Western heritage.

Being a not-very-successful team, and a not-very-glamorous team, there are no official NBA videos about the Nuggets, and books about them are few and far between. In 2014, Zach Wyner contributed their entry in the NBA's On the Hardwood series. In 2015, Nate LeBoutillier did the same for their A History of Hoops series. Perhaps the upcoming 50th Anniversary will lead to team history books and videos.

During the Game. A November 13, 2014 article on DailyRotoHelp ranked the NBA teams' fan bases, and listed the Nuggets' fans 17th, in the bottom half of the league. The article praises them for not having fair-weather fans, saying that they show up even when the team is mediocre.

Coloradans love their sports, but they're not known as antagonistic. Although the Jets came within a half of derailing a Bronco Super Bowl visit in 1999 (1998 season), and the Devils came within a game of short-circuiting their Stanley Cup run in 2001, the people of the Centennial State don't have an ingrained hatred of New Yorkers, despite the 2006 brawl between the Knicks and the Nuggets at Madison Square Garden.

As long as you don't wear Kansas City Chiefs or Oakland Raiders gear, you'll probably be completely safe. (But, as always, watch out for obnoxious drunks, who know no State Lines.) And those of you who are Knick fans may want to be warned that Carmelo Anthony, who chose to abandon Denver's loyal fans for the spotlight of New York, could get the heck booed out of him.

Unlike the Avalanche with Jake Schroeder, the Nuggets do not have a regular National Anthem singer, instead accepting auditions. Sometimes, the Nuggets will wear throwback uniforms, including tributes to the old Rockets, and their Tetris-like (but long preceding that game) skyscraper-foreground, mountain-background logo. Like several other teams, the Nuggets received a team-specific version of the group Power Surge's song "Roll With It" for use as a fight song.

The Nuggets' mascot is Rocky the Mountain Lion, named for the mountain range and one of the indigenous beasts thereof. Like Go the Gorilla in Phoenix and Hugo the Hornet in Charlotte, he is known for performing trick dunks.
After the Game. Denver has had crime issues, and just 3 blocks from Coors Field is Larimer Street, immortalized as a dingy, bohemian-tinged, hobo-strewn street in Jack Kerouac’s novel On the Road. But that scene was written in 1947. The Pepsi Center is, essentially, an island in a sea of parking. LoDo (Lower Downtown) has become, with the building of Coors Field and the revitalization of Union Station, a sort of mountain Wrigleyville, and thus the go-to area for Denver nightlife. So you’ll probably be safe.

Across Chopper Circle from the arena is Brooklyn's at the Pepsi Center, a typical sports bar. If you want something a little more substantial, a Panda Express is on the other side of the arena, across Elitch Circle.

LoDo is loaded with bars that will be open after the game, including Scruffy Murphy's at Larimer & 20th, and an outlet of the Fado Irish Pub chain at Wynkoop & 19th. The Sports Column, at 1930 Blake Street, 2 blocks from the ballpark, was rated as the best sports bar in Colorado in a recent Thrillist article. The only baseball-named place I can find anywhere near Coors is Sandlot Brewery, at 22nd & Blake, outside the park's right-field corner.

Perhaps the most famous sports-themed restaurant near Denver is Elway's Cherry Creek, a steakhouse at 2500 E. 1st Avenue in the southern suburb of Cherry Creek. Bus 83L. It's owned by the same guy who owns John Elway Chevrolet in another southern suburb, Englewood.

About a mile southeast of Coors Field, at 538 E. 17th Avenue in the Uptown neighborhood (not sure why a southern, rather than northern, neighborhood is called "Uptown"), is The Tavern, home of the local New York Giants fan club. Jet fans gather at Chopper’s Sports Grill, possibly named for Chopper Travaglini, at 80 S. Madison Street at Bayaud Avenue, 3 miles southeast of downtown, in the Pulaski Park neighborhood. Bus 83, then a mile’s walk.

If your visit to Denver is during the European soccer season (which is now winding down), your best bet for watching your favorite club is at The Three Lions (named for the crest on the jerseys of the England national team), 2239 E. Colfax Avenue, about 2 miles east of downtown. Number 15 bus.

Sidelights. Sports Authority Field at Mile High, formerly Invesco Field at Mile High, has been the home of the NFL's Denver Broncos since 2001. Everyone just gives it the same name as the old facility: "Mile High Stadium." It includes the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, and the Broncos’ Ring of Fame.

It was built on the site of the McNichols Sports Arena, home to the NBA’s Denver Nuggets from 1975 to 1999, the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche from 1995 to 1999, and the first major league team called the Colorado Rockies, the NHL team that became the Devils, from 1976 to 1982. The Denver Dynamite played there from 1987 to 1991, made the Arena Football League Playoffs every season, and won the 1st ArenaBowl in 1987. But the cost of running the team was too high, and it folded.
The Rockies they're wishing good luck are the baseball team,
not the hockey team that used to play there and became the Devils.

It hosted the NCAA Final Four in 1990, with UNLV (the University of Nevada at Las Vegas) clobbering Duke. (The University of Colorado, in Boulder, made the Final Four in 1942 and 1955, although it wasn't yet called the Final Four.  No other Colorado-based school has made it, and none has won a National Championship -- not in basketball, anyway.)

When the time came to play the final concert at McNichols, the act that played the first concert there was brought back: ZZ Top. This fact was mentioned on a Monday Night Football broadcast, leading Dan Dierdorf to note the alphabetic distinction of the long red-bearded men, and say, “The first one should have been ABBA.” Which would have been possible, as they were nearly big in the U.S. at the time. However, the fact that the arena only lasted 24 years, making it not that hard for the act that played the first concert there to also play the last, says something about America's disposable culture.

The old stadium was just to the north of the new stadium/old arena. The current address is Mile High Stadium Circle, but the old intersection was W. 20th Avenue & Bryant St. (2755 W. 17th Avenue was the mailing address.) It was built in 1948 as Bears Stadium, an 18,000-seat ballpark.

When the American Football League was founded in 1960, it was expanded to 34,000 seats with the addition of outfield seating. The name was changed to Mile High Stadium in 1966, and by 1968 much of the stadium was triple-decked and seated 51,706. In 1977 – just in time for the Broncos to make their first Super Bowl run and start “Broncomania” – the former baseball park was transformed into a 76,273-seat horseshoe, whose east stands could be moved in to conform to the shape of a football field, or out to allow enough room for a regulation baseball field. The old-time ballpark had become, by the standards of the time, a modern football stadium.

The biggest complaint when the Rockies arrived in 1993 wasn’t the thin air, or the condition of the stadium (despite its age, it was not falling apart), but the positioning of the lights: Great for football fans, but terrible for outfielders tracking fly balls. But it was only meant to be a temporary ballpark for the Rockies, as a condition for Denver getting a team was a baseball-only stadium. What really led to the replacement of Mile High Stadium, and its demolition in 2002, was greed: The Broncos' desire for luxury-box revenue.

At Bears/Mile High Stadium, the Broncos won AFC Championships in 1977, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1997 and 1998, winning the Super Bowl in the last 2 years after losing the first 4 in blowouts.  (They've now won an AFC title at the new stadium, but not a Super Bowl.) The Denver Bears won Pennants while playing there in 1957 (as a Yankee farm team), 1971, 1976, 1977, 1981, 1983 and 1991 (winning the last one under the Denver Zephyrs name).

The U.S. national soccer team played a pair of games at Mile High Stadium in the 1990s, and beat Mexico at the new stadium in 2002 (the only game they've played there so far). While the 2008 Democratic Convention was held at the Pepsi Center, Senator Barack Obama gave his nomination acceptance speech outdoors in front of 80,000 people at New Mile High Stadium.

The Red Lion Hotel Denver and the Skybox Grill & Sports Bar are now on the site of the old stadium. At McNichols, the Nuggets reached the ABA Finals in 1976, and the Avalanche won the 1996 Stanley Cup (albeit clinching in Miami). Elvis Presley sang at McNichols on April 23, 1976.

The new stadium, and the site of the old stadium and arena, are at Mile High Station on the light rail C-Line and E-Line.

Coors Field has been home to the Rockies since it opened in 1995. This past February, Coors Field hosted 2 hockey games. The University of Denver beat arch-rival Colorado College 4-1 in a game billed as the Battle On Blake. And as part of the NHL Stadium Series, the Colorado Avalanche hosted the Detroit Red Wings, perhaps perversely celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the birth of their brief but nasty rivalry. The Wings won 5-3.

2001 Blake Street (hence the team's nickname, the Blake Street Bombers) at 20th Street, 3 blocks from Union Station, accessible by light rail.

The Nuggets, known as the Denver Rockets until 1974, played at the Denver Auditorium Arena, at 13th & Champa Streets, from their 1967 inception until McNichols opened in 1975. It was also the home of the original Nuggets, who played in the NBA from 1948 to 1950.
It opened in 1908, and its seating capacity of 12,500 made it the 2nd-largest in the country at the time, behind the version of Madison Square Garden then standing. It almost immediately hosted the Democratic National Convention that nominated William Jennings Bryan for President for the 3rd time – although it’s probably just a coincidence that the Democrats waited exactly 100 years (give or take a few weeks) to go back (it’s not like Obama didn’t want to get it right the 1st time, as opposed 0-for-3 Bryan).

The Auditorium Arena hosted Led Zeppelin’s 1st American concert on December 26, 1968. It was demolished in 1990 to make way for the Denver Performing Arts Complex, a.k.a. the Denver Center. Theatre District/Convention Center Station on the light rail’s D-Line, F-Line and H-Line.

The Denver area's Major League Soccer team, the Colorado Rapids, plays at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City. The U.S. national team has played there twice, winning both times. 6000 Victory Way. Number 48 bus to 60th Avenue & Dahlia Street, then Number 88 bus to 60th & Monaco. Then they make you walk 10 blocks on 60th to get to the stadium.

The Beatles played Red Rocks Amphitheatre in suburban Morrison on August 26, 1964. It is still in business, and a Colorado Music Hall of Fame is a short walk away. 18300 W. Alameda Parkway, 10 miles west of downtown. Sorry, no public transportation.

Elvis played 2 shows at the Denver Coliseum on April 8, 1956, and 1 each on November 17, 1970 and April 30, 1973. Built in 1951, it still stands, seating 10,500, and is best known for concerts and the National Western Stock Rodeo. 4600 Humbolt Street at E. 46th Avenue, off Interstate 70, 3 miles northeast of downtown. Apparently, no public transportation to there, either.

Denver has some renowned museums, including the Denver Museum of Nature & Science (their version of the Museum of Natural History) at 2001 Colorado Blvd. at Montview Blvd. (in City Park, Number 20 bus), and the Denver Art Museum (their version of the Metropolitan Museum of Natural History), at 100 W. 14th Avenue Parkway at Colfax Avenue (across I-25 from Mile High Stadium, Auraria West station on the C-Line and E-Line).

Denver’s history only goes back to a gold rush in 1859 – not to be confused with the 1849 one that turned San Francisco from a Spanish Catholic mission into the first modern city in the American West. The city isn’t exactly loaded with history.

There’s no Presidential Library – although Mamie Doud, the eventual Mrs. Dwight D. Eisenhower, grew up there, and her house is now a historic site. Mamie and “Ike” were married there, their son John (a future General, Ambassador and military historian) was born there, and the Eisenhowers were staying there when Ike had his heart attack in 1955. The house is still in private ownership, and is not open to the public. However, if you’re a history buff, or if you just like Ike, and want to see it, it’s at 750 Lafayette Street, at 8th Avenue. The Number 6 bus will get you to 6th & Lafayette.

After his heart attack, Ike was treated at Fitzsimmons Army Medical Center in nearby Aurora, 12 years after Senator John Kerry, nearly elected President in 2004 and now Secretary of State, was born there. It’s not a Presidential Birthplace, because Kerry narrowly lost. It is now the University of Colorado Hospital. The Fitzsimmons Golf Course is across Montview Boulevard – it figures that Ike would be hospitalized next to a golf course! 16th Avenue & Quentin Street. Number 20 bus from downtown.

The University of Denver’s Newman Center for the Performing Arts hosted a 2012 Presidential Debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. 2344 East Iliff Avenue, about 5 miles south of downtown. H Line light rail to University of Denver Station.

Denver doesn't have as many tall buildings as the nation's bigger cities, nor are they as interesting, architecturally. The tallest building in the State of Colorado is Republic Plaza, 714 feet high, at 17th Street & Tremont Place downtown.

The University of Colorado is in Boulder, 30 miles to the northwest. At Market Street Station, 16th & Market, take the BV Bus to the Boulder Transit Center, which is on campus. The ride should take about an hour and 20 minutes. Colorado State University is in Fort Collins, 65 miles up Interstate 25 north, and forget about reaching it by public transportation. The U.S. Air Force Academy is outside Colorado Springs, 60 miles down I-25. As with Fort Collins, you'd need Greyhound. Unlike CSU, you might not be able to just go there: Some of the area is restricted.  It is, after all, a military base.

A few TV shows have been set in Denver, but you won't find their filming locations there. The old-time Western Whispering Smith and the more recent one Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman were set in old Colorado, but filmed in Southern California.

Probably the most famous show set in Colorado is South Park, and that's a cartoon, so forget seeing anything from that. Not quite as cartoonish was Mork & Mindy, set in Boulder. The McConnell house actually is in Boulder, at 1619 Pine Street. But don't try to copy the opening-sequence scene with Robin Williams and Pam Dawber on the goalposts at the University of Colorado's Folsom Field. You could fall, and end up saying, "Shazbot!"

The most famous show ever set in Colorado was Dynasty, ABC's Excessive Eighties counterpart to CBS' Dallas, starring John Forsythe as Blake Carrington, an oilman and a thinly-veiled version of Marvin Davis, who nearly bought the Oakland Athletics from Charlie Finley in 1978 with the idea of moving them to Mile High Stadium, but the deal fell through. Right, you don't care about Blake, all you care about is the catfights between the 2nd and 1st Mrs. Carrington's: Krystle (Linda Evans) and Alexis (Joan Collins). The Carrington mansion seen in the opening credits is in Beverly Hills, but the building that stood in for the headquarters of Denver Carrington is at 621 17th Street, while the one that stood in for Colbyco is at 1801 California Street.

Movies set in Denver or its suburbs include The Unsinkable Molly Brown, the original Red Dawn, and, of course, Things to Do In Denver When You're Dead. Films involving skiing often take place in Colorado towns such as Aspen or Vail. City Slickers, a film with loads of baseball references, has a cattle drive that ends in Colorado, but there's no indication of how close it is to Denver. Flashback
takes place on the Pacific Coast, but Denver's Union Station stands in for a train station in San Francisco.

*

The Denver Nuggets debuted nearly half a century ago, and lived the funky ABA lifestyle before being accepted into the NBA 40 years ago. They've never been great, but have usually been good. A Knick or Net fan should be able to enjoy a visit.

If Twitter Was Around Then

Warning: Contains nasty language, bad grammar, weak punctuation and capitalization, and shorthand -- in each case, as befitting Twitter.

15 Dec 1956 @EbbetsFieldBum #JR42 refused to play for The Scum, retires as #Brooklyn Dodger. #Legend

15 Dec 1956 @PoloGrounder37 Fuk him its all about the #SayHeyKid #WM24 #Jints

19 Aug 1957 @StonehamSux Horace you ahole keep #Jints in NYC! Think of the kids

20 Aug 1957 @HoraceStoneham1903 I feel bad for the kids but haven't seen 2 many of their dads lately

24 Sep 1957 @EbbetsFieldBum Omalley i swear to god if you move #DemBums Ill kill U

10 Oct 1957 @StonehamSux Hahahahahaha #YankeesSuck cant even beat Milwawke

10 Oct 1957 @Yanks17Rings I'll be spending Opening Day at Yankee Stadium. Where will YOU be on Opening Day? Polo Grounds? Oh, that's right...

10 Oct 1957 @StonehamSux kill yrself

5 Oct 1958 @RalphMalph39 Looks like our Braves are gonna beat the Yankees again! "Bushville" my ass!

9 Oct 1958 @MickMan7 Y'all were sayin'?

28 Dec 1958 @Yanks18Rings Baltimore? The Giants lost the NFL title to Baltimore? At home?

22 Aug 1959 @BronxBoy1938 Yanks lost again? To fuckin KC? #StengelOut old man can't do it no more

13 Oct 1960 @ForbesBuc09 MAZEROSKI!

13 Oct 1960 @BronxBoy1938 FUCK YOU CASEY Y U NO START WHITEY IN GAMES 1 4 AND 7 FUCK OFFFFFFFF

18 Oct 1960 @OlPerfesser1890 I guess this means they fired me.

12 Sept 1961 @MickMan7 FU Maris you aint' as good as Mickey or Babe

12 Sept 1961 @Maris9Fan He never said he was. He's a great player. Leave him alone

1 Oct 1961 @FargoGirlPat He did it! My Roger did it! #RM9 #61in61

1 Oct 1961 @ClaireMrsBabe Son of a bitch!

2 Mar 1962 @PhillyWarriorFan 100! My man #Wilt! He actually did it! #WC13 #WC100 #GOAT

2 Mar 1962 @CelticFan1 It really shouldn't count, since it was against the #Knicks. And he hasn't won a ring.

2 Mar 1962 @MadisonSquareGardener46 DONOVAN OUT

13 Jul 1962 @OlPerfesser1890 I been in this game 100 years. My amazin #Mets showed me ways to lose I never knew existed before.

13 Jul 1962 @NewBreedFan62 dont worry Casey were nys team now fuck the yankees

22 May 1963 @MickMan7 Ballgame over! Yankees win! Call Mickey the facademeister! #HowAboutThat

5 Jun 1963 @MickMan7 Oh shit Mickey! Not again!

5 Jun 1963 @NewBreedFan62 ha ha ha mickey WOMANtles hurt again #yankeessuck its all about da #METS now

5 Jun 1963 @Yanks20Rings Like you got a player like Mickey.

5 Jun 1963 @NewBreedFan62 we got a BETTER player than mickey WOMANtle we got the DUKE!

6 Jun 1963 @Yanks20Rings You're a moron, Duke Snider is washed up

4 Aug 1963 @MickMan7 Pinch-hit home run after 2 months on the sideline! That's what I'm talkin' 'bout! #MM7 #Legend #GOAT

2 Oct 1963 @SandysMensch Koufax! 15 Ks!

6 Oct 1963 @NewBreedFan62 ha ha ha stinkees and mickey WOMANtle got swept by #dembums!

6 Oct 1963 @Yanks20Rings You DO know the Dodgers aren't in Brooklyn anymore, right? LA's win does nothing for you. Your Mutts have lost 231 games in 2 years.

24 Nov 1963 @AFLfan1960 POTUS dies, AFL postpones games, NFL doesn't. Shame on you, #Rozelle RIP #JFK 1917-63

10 Feb 1964 @PaulMacsGirl50 OMG Beatles are so fine I wanna have Pauls baby I just turned 14

10 Feb 1964 @JohnLennonFan45 You do know it wouldn't matter if they weren't also great singers, musicians & songwriters, right?

10 Feb 1964 @PaulMacsGirl50 But they're GORRRRRRRRGEOUS

24 Feb 1964 @PrettyCassius I'm young, I'm handsome, I'm fast, I'm pretty, and can't possibly be beat!

24 Feb 1964 @BigBoxingFan Liston gonna fuck you up (N-word)!

24 Feb 1964 @PrettyCassius If you wanna lose yo money, be a fool and bet on Sonny!

25 Feb 1964 @PrettyCassius I am The Greatest! I'm pretty! I'm a bad man! I shook up the world!

26 Feb 1964 @MuhammadAli1942 New account for a new name. @PrettyCassius is a slave handle.

4 Jul 1964 @PaulMacsGirl50 Jane Asher is a ho

21 Jun 1965 @MickMan7 That SI cover is brutal. Mickey looks about 50 years old.

21 Jul 1965 @SheaBoy64 427K for Namath? That guy's hella dope but spending that much money on 1 player I'm afraid is a hella dont

15 Aug 1965 @Yanks20Rings Shows how much class #Mets have, letting those longhairs play in their dumb football stadium in Queens.

16 Aug 1965 @PaulMacsGirl50 Shut up Beatles are boss they are the greatest band ever we are the greatest fandom ever

9 Sep 1965 @SandysMensch Koufax! Perfect! #4NoHitters

22 Sep 1965 @MickMan7 Minnesota. The Minnesota Freaking #Twins. I can't believe it.

22 Sep 1965 @Yanks20Rings They're a flash in the pan. 1965 was just another 1959, 1940 or 1925. The Yanks will win the Series again next year.

9 Dec 1965 @Yanks20Rings The #Orioles traded Milt Pappas for Frank Robinson? Are they out of their minds?

28 Apr 1966 @LALakers60 FFS when will #NBA clamp down on #Celtic cheating? #Lakers will never win title until they do!

9 Oct 1966 @33rdStreetBirdman World Champs baby! 4 straight! Fuck LA! #FR20 World Champ MVP & Triple Crown!

19 Nov 1966 @SandysMensch Why, Sandy, Why? #Tears #SK32 #Legend #GOAT

19 Nov 1966 @SpartyFanMSU Parseghian had no guts #TieOneForTheGipper

24 Apr 1967 @WiltNormChamberlain We've done it, #Philly. #76ers #WorldChamps

25 Apr 1967 @SixerFan63 How many women did you screw last night, Wilt? #Legend

25 Apr 1967 @WiltNormChamberlain None. But I made love to three.

25 Apr 1967 @SixerFan63 You dog. #GOAT #WC13

1 Oct 1967 @SawxFan67 #ImpossibleDream, baby! We're Number 1! Suck it, Yankees!

10 Oct 1968 @CubFan1945 #Tigers beat #Gibson in #Game7. I love it, but I don't believe it!

9 Jan 1969 @Numba1ColtsFan Hey Joe were gonna kick your ass on Sunday

9 Jan 1969 @JoeWillie12 We're gonna win. I guarantee it.

12 Jan 1969 @MayorLindsay J, E, T, S, Jets, Jets, Jets! Now, PLEASE re-elect me!

12 Jan 1969 @JoeWillie12 I told ya so.

1 Mar 1969 @MickMan7 The greatest ever, and he's hanging 'em up. I can't even.

1 Mar 1969 @SheaBoy64 As much as I hate the Yankees, #Mantle is a #Legend. #RESPEC7

12 Mar 1969 @PaulMacsGirl50 I HATE YOU LINDA EASTMAN! YOU CAN'T HAVE PAUL HE'S MINE MINE MIIIINE! BITCH!

8 Jun 1969 @MickMan7 We love you Mickey

8 Jun 1969 @NewBreedFan62 mickey WOMANtle is done he can limp away now its all about amazin METS baby

20 Jul 1969 @SheaBoy64 #ManOnTheMoon! Now, the #Mets are gonna put the #Pennant on the Moon!

21 Jul 1969 @CubFan1945 Nope. Cubbies, baby.

24 Sep 1969 @CubFan1945 What was it Charlie Brown said? AUUGH! Good grief! I can't stand it! My stomach hurts!

25 Sep 1969 @SheaBoy64 Bring your kiddies and bring your wife, guaranteed to have the time of your life! Because the Mets are really sockin' the ball...

16 Oct 1969 @SheaBoy64 The #MiracleOn126thStreet is done! #Mets #WereNumber1

17 Oct 1969 @MayorLindsay #LetsGoMets! #WorldChamps! Please re-elect me!

5 Nov 1969 @MayorLindsay Thank you, New York! #NYC #FunCity #GreatestCityInTheWorld #CityOfChampions

5 Nov 1969 @MickMan7 Since 1956 the Yanks, Mets, Giants & now Jets & Mets have won titles. Still waiting on Knicks & Rangers.

17 Apr 1970 @PaulMacsGirl50 OMG #Beatles broke up I can't even. I hate you Linda! I hate you Yoko! I wanna die

4 May 1970 @MadisonSquareGardener46 Oh shit no! Willis!

4 May 1970 @MasterHaywoodAllen Why does this stuff always have to happen to the #Knicks?

8 May 1970 @MadisonSquareGardener46 If Willis can't play, we're dead. Wilt will eat us alive, Jerry West will hit 30-foot jumpers, Baylor will crush us. Dead.

8 May 1970 @MadisonSquareGardener46 WILLIS!

8 May 1970 @MadisonSquareGardener46 We win! #Knicks 113 Lakers 99! #WorldChamps at last! OMG I'm gonna cry

8 May 1970 @EbbetsFieldBum Now you know how I felt in '55.

8 May 1970 @MadisonSquareGardener46 I know rite?

9 May 1970 @PaulMacsGirl50 You know, big brother, I never realized how handsome Elvis is. And what a voice. Maybe I'm getting mature. It sucks.

10 May 1970 @PresleyBoy41 I told ya, he's still The King. #ThankYouVeryMuch

10 May 1970 @SawxFan67 Score! Bobby Orr in OT! #Bruins win the Cup!

19 May 1970 @Yanks20Rings That Munson kid needs to get a haircut. He just doesn't fit the #YankeeWay. You gotta have #Class

29 May 1970 @Yanks20Rings That Jackson kid for Oakland can really hit. Come on Mike Burke, spend some fucking MONEY!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Andy Bathgate, 1932-2016

Say what you want about the New York Rangers, and I've said plenty, but there was a time when they didn't "suck." And they had honored 8 men with retired numbers, and all were still alive.

That is no longer the case.

Andrew James Bathgate was born on August 28, 1932, in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He played in the minor leagues for 2 teams whose names would later be borne by NHL teams: The Cleveland Barons of the American Hockey League, and the Vancouver Canucks of the Western Hockey League. He debuted with the Rangers in the 1952-53 season, and gave them his all for 11 seasons.

Were they good seasons? For him, yes: In 7 straight seasons, 1956-57 to 1962-63, under a 70-game schedule, he scored at least 26 goals. In 1958-59, he topped out at 40, a big number for the time (a pretty good number now), and won the Hart Trophy as NHL Most Valuable Player. He was named to 4 All-Star Games.

For the Rangers, not so much: In only 4 of his 11 seasons with them did they make the Playoffs: 1956, 1957, 1958 and 1962, never getting closer than within 2 games of the Finals, although they did lose to the eventual Champions in 3 of the 4. In 2 of those seasons, 1953 and 1960, they finished 6th -- and there were only 6 teams at the time.

The Rangers of the Eisenhower and Kennedy years weren't as bad as the worst teams of the post-expansion era, but when goaltender Lorne "Gump" Worsley was asked which team gave him the most trouble, he said, "The Rangers." (He was traded to the Montreal Canadiens in 1963, and helped them win 4 Stanley Cups.) Bathgate, Worsley, and defenseman Harry Howell, all future members of the Hockey Hall of Fame, were pretty much the only reasons to watch the Rangers at the time.

The January 12, 1959 issue of Sports Illustrated put him on the cover (didn't jinx him, as it turned out), and the cover story was titled "Andy Bathgate: Is He the Greatest Ranger of Them All?" Perhaps not: Frank Boucher, Captain of their 1928 and 1933 Cup wins, and coach of their 1940 win, probably was, and probably still is.

But Andy deserved to be in the conversation then, and still does now. Howell agreed, saying he was the greatest player ever to put on the team's jersey: "He was our star, our premier player, our marquee attraction, and deservedly so."

*

Andy put his reputation as the holder of the Hart Trophy on the line in a big way. The January 1960 issue of True magazine published an article titled "Atrocities On Ice," with his name on it, but ghostwritten by Dave Anderson, a legendary sportswriter then working for the New York Journal-American. (Working for that paper in 1957, he claimed to have been the last person to leave the press box after the last game at Ebbets Field. He later moved to The New York Times, and is now 86 years old.)

"Unchecked brutality is going to kill somebody," Anderson quoted Bathgate as saying. He specifically cited spearing, the tactic of stabbing an opponent with the blade of the hockey stick. He named and shamed, including future Hall-of-Famers Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, Doug Harvey, Tom Johnson and Fern Flaman. He also cited his own Ranger teammate, Lou Fontinato. "None of them," Bathgate said, "seems to care that he'l be branded as a hockey killer." In 2010, 50 years after the fact, Bathgate stood by his story: "Red Sullivan, I saw him speared right in front of our bench and have his spleen punctured."

Howe and Fontinato may have stuck in his mind because, the season before, Howe, the best player in the game but also a feared fighter, and Fontinato, the best-known goon in the game at the time, engaged in one of the nastiest fights that any building named Madison Square Garden has ever seen. Howe left Fontinato with a nose shaped like a crescent moon and red blood pouring down his blue Ranger jersey.

Responders to the article claimed that the Rangers ran interference, and that spearing was used to defend against it. The NHL fined him $1,000 (about $8,000 in today's money), at a time when he was making just $18,000 a year (about $144,000 now, and he was one of the best in the game), but it also changed the rule before the next season. "They still didn't give me my $1,000 back," Andy said. "It burns my ass at times, but you have to stand up for it. Sometimes, you've got to speak up for the betterment of hockey, because someone was going to get seriously hurt."

A few weeks before the True article, Bathgate brought about another change in hockey safety, and this time, it was unintentional. On November 1, 1959, playing for the Rangers at the old Garden, he fired a shot that hit Montreal Canadiens goalie Jacques Plante in the face.

Well, the end result was unintentional. The shot was on purpose: "It was deliberate on my part, because of what he did to me," Bathgate said, referring to a poke-check that sent him crashing into the boards, resulting in cuts to his face. "I thought to myself, 'Okay, I can't fight him, because the whole team would jump on me,'" he said, remembering that the Habs had the aforementioned Harvey and Johnson, and such talented hotheads as Maurice "the Rocket" Richard and Bernie Geoffrion.

"So I went into the dressing room and quickly got stitched up... His head was sticking out there, just like a chicken, just so he could see what was going on... It was actually a wrist shot. It wasn't a hard shot, but I tried to give it to him the same as me, and I guess I caught him. It was a shot with feeling in it. It wasn't a blast, and I wasn't trying to score, because the angle was really bad. But his head was sticking out, and I decided, if he wanted to play those little games... "

(In Jacques Plante: The Man Who Changed the Face of Hockey, Todd Denault's biography from which this quote is taken, it just trails off like that.)

Does this make Bathgate a hypocrite because of his complaint against spearing? I don't think so. He had a hard shot, although not as hard as the slap shot that gave Geoffrion, a pioneer in it that inspired the nickname "Boom-Boom." If Bathgate really wanted to hurt Plante with a shot, he could have used a lot more force. He didn't want to end Plante's career, season, or even game: He just wanted to make a point. Message received: Plante never poke-checked him again.

Plante left the ice to receive treatment, and refused to return without the mask he'd designed, but hadn't been allowed to wear. Canadiens coach Hector "Toe" Blake, one of the people who would defend the use of spearing against the Rangers, relented, and Plante became the 1st goalie to regularly wear a mask in the NHL. (A 1920s goalie named Clint Benedict had briefly worn one after an injury.) Plante's confidence restored, the defending Champion Canadiens beat the Rangers, 3-1.

Ironically, Plante would be acquired by the Rangers in the trade for Worsley, each having worn out his welcome with his former team, and he and Bathgate would briefly be teammates. To extend the irony, Worsley would end up being the last NHL goalie to refuse to wear a mask, with the 1974 Minnesota North Stars: "My face is my mask."

*

In 1961, the Rangers named him Captain. In 1964, they traded him to the 2-time defending Cup-winners, the Toronto Maple Leafs. Just the Rangers' luck, he finally won a Cup. In fact, he scored the winning goal in Game 7, past the legendary Terry Sawchuk, putting the Leafs on the board in what became a 4-0 win over the Detroit Red Wings.

"Finally," he said, "I knew what it was like to win the Stanley Cup, to hold it skyward, cradle it like a baby, and hug it like a loved one."
Andy Bathgate and a new friend,
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, April 25, 1964

He was traded to the Red Wings in 1966, and reached another Stanley Cup Finals. He was an original Pittsburgh Penguin in the expansion season of 1967-68, scoring the 1st goal in franchise history, and played a bit longer in the minors. He closed his career as player-coach of the World Hockey Association's Vancouver Blazers in 1975.

He was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame, the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame, and the Manitoba and Ontario Sports Halls of Fame. In 1998, in celebration of their 50th Anniversary, The Hockey News named their 100 Greatest Hockey Players, and listed him as Number 58. The next year, he was named the right wing on the Manitoba All-Century All-Star Team.

On February 22, 2009, the Rangers retired Number 9 for him -- having already done so for Adam Graves -- and Number 3 for Howell. Why they waited so long, who knows, but at least they were still alive at the time. They were joined on the ice by the Rangers' other honorees: Graves; 1, Eddie Giacomin; 2, Brian Leetch; 7, Rod Gilbert; 11, Mark Messier; and 35, Mike Richter. Later that year, the team released the book 100 Ranger Greats, and Bathgate came in at Number 8.
L to R: Gilbert, Giacomin, Richter, Messier, Leetch, Graves, Bathgate, Howell.
They are lined up in the order in which their numbers were retired.

To this day, 52 years after he last played a shift for the franchise, he ranks 4th on the Rangers' all-time scoring list with 729 points, behind Gilbert, Leetch and Jean Ratelle.

In retirement, he ran a golf driving range in the Toronto suburb of Mississauga, and coached a team that included his grandson, also named Andy Bathgate, who now plays for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Andy Bathgates, at the elder's driving range

Andy Bathgate died this afternoon. He was 83 years old. As of yet, no cause of death has been released.

Until today, he was a living legend, a reminder of the days when the Rangers were the only hockey team in the New York Tri-State Area, and no one questioned that it should be so. He was a class act, who tried to make the game more of a class act. He should be remembered for his talent and his decency, as a man worthy of the Stanley Cup and the Hall of Fame.

How to Be a Devils Fan In Nashville -- 2016 Edition

During the 1995 Stanley Cup Playoffs, as the Devils were advancing to a 1st title, there was a rumor that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was going to allow the Devils to be bought by a group trying to bring a team to Nashville, Tennessee -- our team.

When he was interviewed between periods of the clinching Game 4 of the Finals, the Fox interview shown on the scoreboard screen at the Brendan Byrne Arena, a full house of 19,040 Devils fans chanted, "Bettman sucks!"

"Let it be known," Bettman said to Fox (and Devils) announcer Mike Emrick, "that hockey fans are passionate!"

The Devils won the Cup, and stayed. On December 18, 1996, the Nashville Arena, now named the Bridgestone Arena, opened. On June 25, 1997, Bettman granted an expansion franchise to Nashville. On October 10, 1998, the Nashville Predators played their 1st game.

This coming Thursday night, the Devils travel to Nashville, but only for 1 game, to play the Predators. All has been forgiven for the attempt to move the Devils there over 20 years ago.

Before You Go. Nashville is in the South. Not the Deep South, but the Mid-South. However, Tennessee rejoined the Union a long time ago, and you won't need to bring a passport or change your money.

If you were going to a baseball game, or an early-season football game, the heat might be an issue. But this will be at the beginning of March, so even outside the arena, heat won't be a factor. What could be a factor is rain: The website of Nashville's main newspaper, The Tennessean, is predicting thunderstorms. As for temperatures, they're talking low 60s for daylight and mid-30s for night. You might not need a jacket in the afternoon, but you'll need a winter jacket at night.

Nashville, like most (but not all) of Tennessee, is in the Central Time Zone, an hour behind us. Adjust your timepieces accordingly.

Tickets. The Predators are averaging 16,881 fans per home game this season, about 98.6 percent of capacity, a slight increase over last season. Tickets might be hard to get.

Seats in the lower level, the 100 sections, go for $165 between the goalss and $93 behind them. Seats in the upper level, the 300 sections, go for $45 and $32.

Getting There. It's 892 miles from Midtown Manhattan to downtown Nashville, and 881 miles from the Prudential Center to the Bridgestone Arena. So your first instinct would be to fly. This looks like a good idea, since a round-trip flight could cost under $500. The downside: Changing planes in Charlotte. Nashville International Airport is 8 miles east of downtown, and the Number 18 bus can get you to downtown in under half an hour. (The airport was originally named Berry Field, after Colonel Harry S. Berry, the Tennessee administrator for the New Deal's Works Progress Administration.)

You can't take Amtrak: It doesn't serve Nashville. Greyhound can get you from New York to Memphis in a little under 30 hours, for $308 round-trip, although it could drop to as little as $176 with advanced purchase, although you'd have to change buses in Richmond. The Greyhound station is at 709 5th Avenue South, 5 blocks south of the arena.

If you do drive, it's far enough that you should get someone to go with you, to trade off, especially if one can sleep while the other drives. Get into New Jersey, take Interstate 78 West into Pennsylvania. At Harrisburg, get on Interstate 81 South, and take that down through Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia, into Tennessee, where it flows into Interstate 40 West. Take that halfway across Tennessee. Exit 210 is for downtown.

If all goes well, you should spend a little over an hour in New Jersey, 2 hours and 45 minutes in Pennsylvania, 15 minutes in Maryland, half an hour in West Virginia, 6 and a half hours in Virginia, and 2 hours and 45 minutes in Tennessee, for a total of 13 hours and 45 minutes. Given rest stops in Pennsylvania, one at each end of Virginia, and 1 in Tennessee, and we're talking about a trip of at least 17 hours -- each way.

Once In the City. Founded in 1779, and named for General Francis Nash, killed in the Battle of Brandywine outside Philadelphia in the War of the American Revolution, Nashville is in central Tennessee. It is the State capital, home to 627,000 people with a metropolitan area of about 1.9 million.
The State House, formerly featured on Tennessee license plates.
That statue of Andrew Jackson, Tennessee pioneer,
has copies in Washington across from the White House,
and in downtown New Orleans.

The sales tax in Tennessee is 7 percent, and within Davidson County, including Nashville, 9.25 percent, even higher than New York's. Address numbers on east-west streets increase away from the Cumberland River, and Broadway separates north from south. The The Nashville Metropolitan Transit Authority (NMTA) runs buses, with a $1.75 fare, and the Music City Star, a commuter rail service to the city's eastern suburbs, with a fare double that, $3.50.
The Music City Star, with Nissan Stadium,
home of the Titans, in the background

Going In. The Bridgestone Arena is downtown, with an official address of 501 Broadway, at 5th Avenue South. Across Broadway, on either side of 5th, are the Nashville Convention Center and the Ryman Auditorium, legendary home of The Grand Ole Opry. If you're driving in, parking can be had for as little as $3.00. Major entrances are at the north and south ends, smaller ones at the east and west.
The Arena, easily identifiable with its sloping roof and its antenna at the north end, opened in 1996, with the generic name Nashville Arena. It was renamed the Gaylord Entertainment Center in 1999, after a locally-based media company that was a minority stockholder in the team. In 2005, Gaylord sold its stock, and in 2007 the arena was renamed the Sommet Center, after Sommet Group, a local company that oversaw software development and payroll services. But Sommet was a company built on fraud, its founder went to prison, and in 2010 locally-based tire company Bridgestone bought the naming rights, and holds them to this day.

The rink is laid out north-to-south, and the Predators shoot twice toward the south end.
The Arena has hosted Southeastern Conference Tournament, Ohio Valley Conference Tournament, and NCAA Tournament basketball -- in each case, both men's and women's. It hosted the Women's Final Four in 2014. The Country Music Association (CMA) Awards have been held there since 2006.

Food. Memphis has a reputation as a city of fine Southern food, particularly barbecue. Nashville, less so: They're known for music first, and food, and everything else, somewhere down the line.

Delaware North runs the concessions. There's a Main Food Court behind Sections 101 and 102 at the north end. Nathan's hot dogs and Dunkin Donuts are served throughout the Arena. Other chains available including Whitt's Barbecue, Hunt Brothers Pizza, Popcornopolis, Nuts About Nashville, Christie Cookies (hopefully not named for a Governor of New Jersey or two) and Dippin Dots. They also serve Bacon On a Stick. The South.

Team History Displays. The Nashville Predators began as an NHL expansion team in 1998 -- only the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Minnesota Wild, and the Atlanta Thrashers-turned-new Winnipeg Jets are newer franchises -- and while they've made the Playoffs in 8 of the last 11 completed seasons, and won postseason series in 2011 and '12, they've never won their Division (though they've finished 2nd 6 times, including last season), and have never gotten past the Western Conference Semifinals.

So they've got no titles of any kind. Nor do they retired any numbers for any player -- nor has any player who played for them yet been elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

But they do have 2 banners in the rafters: Honoring their 1st game in 1998, and their fans as the "7th Man" with a Number 7, which, indeed, is not worn by any current Predators player.
The Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame is located at the Arena. No Predators player has yet been inducted.

Stuff. The Nashville Predators Team Store is located on the east, 5th Avenue side of the Arena. The usual team-related gear can be found there.

As one of the NHL's newer teams, there are no NBA Finals DVD packages for the Predators, and books about them are few and far between. In time for the team's 10th Anniversary in 2008, Craig Leipold published Hockey Tonk: The Amazing Story of the Nashville Predators. I wouldn't say their story is "amazing," but as expansion franchises, go, and as Sun Belt hockey teams go, they've done okay.) This past Auturmn, Justin B. Bradford and Pete Weber collaborated on Nashville Predators: The Making of Smashville.

During the Game. A November 19, 2014 article on The Hockey News' website ranked the NHL teams' fan bases, and listed the Predators' fans 20th -- 1 place ahead of the Devils' fans. A slap to those of us who didn't want the Devils moved to Nashville? Their explanation of the ranking: "Preds known for fun fan experience but don't sell out, have low Twitter following." I don't know if Twiter followers is a good gauge of fan interaction, but attendance is, and the Preds fill the Bridgestone Arena to 99 percent of capacity. So THN are lying about something.

Nashville people don't like Memphis people. And Tennessee people don't like Arkansas, Alabama, and Florida people -- holdovers from college football rivalries. And Predators fans really don't like the Chicago Blackhawks and their fans. That's about as far as rivalries go there. They don't have a particular problem with New Jersey. So as long as you don't make any wiseguy remarks about this being a North vs. South game, you shouldn't face anything beyond the usual nonviolent "My team rocks, your team sucks" talk.

Why the Blackhawks? Apparently, during Playoff matchups, Chicagoans buy up a lot of online tickets, make the 475-mile trip, and make nuisances of themselves. Sort of like Ranger fans making the much shorter trip to the Prudential Center. Except the Hawk fans make it worse, but cheering throughout the National Anthem, even when the Preds bring in country music superstars, like Vince Gill, a season ticketholder from Day One.

So the Preds have "In Gold We Trust," asking fans to wear the mustard-yellow (it sure ain't "gold") jerseys, and sing the Anthem along with whoever's singing it, usually some country singer or other (if not always a big star). It works pretty well.

Mike Fisher plays for the Predators. He's married to country superstar Carrie Underwood. If being the 2nd-most famous, and 2nd-best-paid, person in his own marriage (a rare thing for a male major league athlete) bothers him, he doesn't show it in public. Then again, this means that Carrie's married name is Carrie Fisher.

The Predators have the Predators Dancers, and their own Ice Girls -- and they sell cheesecake calendars with pictures of both. Their mascot is Gnash the Sabretooth Tiger -- Nash, short for Nashville, with a G at the beginning, so he can gnash his sabre teeth.
The mustard-yellow jersey and the bright blue claws
take some of the intimidation factor away.

You might want to stay out of Section 303, behind the north goal. Or, rather, Cellblock 303. It's their version of the Section 233 Crazies at the Prudential Center and the Blue Seats at Madison Square Garden. After each opposing player is introduced, they yell, "...SUCKS!" Okay, fairly common, and not as witty as Detroit Red Wing fans shouting, "Who cares?" But when the opposing head coach is introduced, they close with, "And he sucks, too!" That is a little different.

During the team's goal song, "Gold On the Ceiling" by the Nashville-based group the Black Keys, they do the familiar, "Hey: You suck!" After the song finishes, the sound-effects guy pushes a button for the roar of a sabretooth tiger, for each goal the team has scored thus far. The Predator fans yell, "That's one!" and "That's two!" and so on until reaching the correct number, followed by invoking the opposing goalie's name: "Thank you, Schneider, may we have another?" And while we have, "If You Know the Rangers Suck," they have, "If you're crappy and you know it, ice the puck!" Their victory song is "I Like It, I Love It," by Tim McGraw (Tug's son, to we baseball fans).

Oh yeah, there's another hockey tradition they've co-opted, one they probably should have left alone. You know how Detroit fans like to throw an octopus onto the ice? Well, when the Wings came to town in the 2002 Playoffs, Nashville fans responded by throwing that Southern pescatory staple, the catfish, onto the ice. (It probably had nothing to do with the 1966 Lovin' Spoonful song "Nashville Cats," although the Bridgestone Arena was formerly home to the Nashville Kats of the Arena Football League.)
A Predators Ice Girl, clearly not enjoying her job on the evening

After the Game. If there was an NHL team in Memphis, Nashville fans wouldn't like them. And we know they don't like Chicago. But they've never been known to turn on New Jerseyans. Devils fans shouldn't get any hassling, as long as they aren't the ones to bring it on.

Being in downtown Nashville, there are plenty of places to go for a postgame libation. Just don't call it a "libation" when you're in one, or you might get some funny looks. Robert's Western World, at 416 Broadway, is a honky-tonk famed for cold beer, fried baloney sandwiches and live country bands. Across the street, Rippy's specializes in barbecue. And there are many others.

However, I could find no place in Nashville catering to fans of any Tri-State Area team: Not the Yankees, the Mets, the Giants, and so on... and certainly not the Devils. Besides, Charlie Daniels thinks we went down to Georgia. (Which hasn't had an NHL team since April 2011.)

If you visit Nashville during the European soccer season, which we are now in, the best place to watch your local club is Fleet Street Pub, 207 Printers Alley, off Church Street between 3rd and 4th Streets downtown.

Sidelights. Nashville is about music 1st, Tennessee State government 2nd, and sports 3rd. But it's a good sports town, even though it's never had an MLB or an NBA team.

* Nissan Stadium. Home of the Tennessee Titans since it opened in 1999, it was known as the Adelphia Coliseum until 2002, simply The Coliseum until 2006, LP Field until last June. The 69,000-seat horseshoe has seen the Titans win the AFC Championship in its inaugural season, and nearly win Super Bowl XXXIV, and Division titles in 2000 (the old AFC Central), 2002 and 2008 (the new AFC South). However, the Titans haven't made the Playoffs since the 2008 season, haven't won a Playoff game since January 2004, and have gone just 5-27 the last 2 seasons.

Tennessee State University, a historically-black school in Nashville, is the stadium's collegiate tenant. The stadium also hosts the annual Music City Bowl. It hosts concerts, including the CMA Music Festival every June.

It's also been a soccer facility, including hosting the U.S. national team in a 1-0 loss to Morocco in 2006, a 3-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago in 2009, a 1-0 loss to Paraguay in 2011, and a 4-0 win over Guatemala last July. That was game was riddled by operational and logistical issues, and even before kickoff, the Twittersphere exploded with discussions of the stadium's inadequacy.

1 Titans Way, across the River from downtown.There's no bus service, but it accessible from downtown by walking across the John Siegenthaler Pedestrian Bridge, which makes for a great visual on Titans gamedays.

* Vanderbilt University. If there was an "Ivy League" for Southern schools, this school, founded by 19th Century railroad baron Cornelius Vanderbilt, would be one of them. It is superb academically, but those high standards have hurt it when recruiting athletes, who tend to go to less stringent schools, thus leaving Vandy, whose teams are called the Commodores after Cornelius' nickname, struggling within the Southeastern Conference in most sports. Their women's basketball team is an exception, but, even then, they are overshadowed by their neighbors in Knoxville, the University of Tennessee.

Dudley Field opened in 1922, but was demolished and replaced with Vanderbilt Stadium in 1981, although the playing surface is still called Dudley Field, for William F. Dudley, dean of the University's medical school and the founder of the precursor league to the SEC.
Vanderbilt's athletic complex

After leaving Houston following the 1996 season, the plan was for the Oilers to play at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis for 2 years, as the Tennessee Oilers, before moving to the new stadium in Nashville for 1999. But this was a public-relations disaster, as Memphians stayed away from Nashville's team in droves, heedless of the State's name on the team.

So after topping 32,000 in only 1 home game (the last, 50,677 seeing them beat the Pittsburgh Steelers to finish 8-8), and getting less than 18,000 in 2 of their games (the smallest NFL crowds since World War II, except for the Scab Year of 1987), Bud Adams took the hint, and swung a deal to play in Nashville a year early. Vanderbilt Stadium seated only 41,448 people, making it the smallest NFL stadium since the early 1960s, but they sold it out in 4 of their 8 games. The next year, they moved into what's now Nissan Stadium, and dropped the Oilers name to officially become the Tennessee Titans.

Vanderbilt Stadium is adjacent to Memorial Gymnasium, built in 1952 as a memorial to the servicemen and -women of World War II. It is unique in college basketball (although this was not he case when it opened) in that both teams' benches are behind one of the baskets. Other unusual touches, and its age (there are several Division I schools with older facilities still in use) have nicknamed it The Fenway Park of College Basketball. 210 25th Avenue South, about 2 miles west of downtown. Number 3 bus.

* First Tennessee Park and site of Sulphur Dell. The original home of Nashville baseball is its home once again. Sulphur Dell stood on the site from 1870 to 1969, but the original ballpark faced southwest, so the State House would be in view. This put the sun in the outfielders' eyes. Along with odors from a nearby dump wafting over, and the occasional flooding from the Cumberland River that forced some games to be moved to Vanderbilt University's field, this earned the stadium the nicknames "The Dump" and "Suffer Hell."

This wooden ballpark was demolished, and replaced with stadium of concrete and steel for the 1927 season. It seated 8,500 fans at its peak. But while the new park fixed the sun problem, it did nothing to get rid of the smell from the dump, and the shape of the plot of land forced a short right field fence with a terrace, much like Cincinnati's old Crosley Field and Houston's Minute Maid Park today. When the Yankees visited for an exhibition game, Babe Ruth refused to play his usual position of right field because of the little hill, and was moved to left field.
The team that played there the longest was called the Nashville Vols, short for "Volunteers," as the University of Tennessee (in Knoxville) calls its teams the Volunteers or the Vols, as Tennessee is known as the Volunteer State. They won Southern Association regular-season Pennants in 1901, 1902, 1908, 1916, 1940, 1943, 1948 and 1949; Playoffs for the SA title in 1939, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1949, 1950 and 1953; and the Dixie Series against the Champions of the Texas League in 1940, 1941, 1942 and 1949.
Hall-of-Famers who played for the Vols included Yankee pitcher Waite Hoyt and Pittsburgh Pirates slugger Kiki Cuyler. The 1940 Vols have been remembered as one of the greatest minor league teams. It featured future All-Star pitcher and Yankee World Champion Johnny Sain, former Detroit Tigers pitcher Cletus "Boots" Poffenberger going 26-9, and catcher Charles "Greek" George won the SA Most Valuable Player award. Unlike Sain, George he didn't play much in the major leagues, and after getting called up in 1945 due to the World War II manpower shortage, he punched an umpire during an argument and got unofficially blackballed from baseball. In his case, "Vol" might have been short for "Volatile."

The National Association, the governing body of minor league baseball, ordered that all leagues under its umbrella be desegregated for the 1962 season. Rather than comply, the Southern Association folded. The Vols, who valued staying in business over white supremacy, were inactive for 1962, but started again in the South Atlantic League for 1963. But they lost money, and folded.

Like the aforementioned Crosley Field, Sulphur Dell was used as a police impound lot, before being demolished in 1969 and being used as parking for State government buildings.

First Tennessee Park, named for a bank, opened on the site in 2015, and the Nashville Sounds moved in. It seats 8,500 people, with grassy outfield seating pushing capacity to around 10,000. It has a view of downtown Nashville. And it copied the idea of a guitar-shaped scoreboard from Greer Stadium.
The old address was 900 5th Avenue North, but it's now listed as 19 Junior Gilliam Way, for the Nashville native who wore Number 19 as a Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers player and coach. A mile from downtown, and several buses go there.

* Herschel Greer Stadium. Named for the late former president of the Vols, this ballpark seats 10,300 people, with standing room pushing it to a possible 15,000, which made it one of the largest minor-league ballparks.
From 1978 to 2014, it was the home of the Nashville Sounds, who started out in the Double-A Southern Association, and moved to Triple-A, first to the American Association, and then, when that league was split up, to the Pacific Coast League. (Yes, I know, Tennessee is pretty far from the Pacific Coast.) The Sounds won Pennants there in 1979, 1982 and 2005, meaning that Nashville has won either a regular-season Pennant or a Playoff Pennant 17 times: 1901, '02, '08, '16, '39, '40, '41, '42, '43, '44, '48, '49, '50, '53, '79, '82 and 2005. (Compare this with Memphis' 10 and Knoxville's 3.)

The stadium was easily identifiable by its nod to Nashville being "Music City": A guitar-shaped scoreboard. But as Camden Yards and a series of new ballparks, in both the majors and the minors, rewrote the rules for what a baseball stadium should be in the 1990s, Greer Stadium began to be seen as outdated, and so a new park was built.
With the Sounds having moved out, its future is uncertain. 534 Chestnut Street, about a mile and a half south of downtown. The Adventure Science Center is next-door. Buses 8, 12 and 25 will get you to within a short walk.

The nearest Major League Baseball team is the Atlanta Braves, 246 miles away, with the Cincinnati Reds a little farther away at 272 miles. According to an April 24, 2014 article in The New York Times, baseball fandom in Nashville is set by TV watching: The 3 most popular teams are the Braves, the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, with some people rooting for the Braves and the Reds due to the comparative proximity.

The nearest NBA team is the Memphis Grizzlies, 213 miles away. But Nashvillians don't root for the Grizzlies, because of the inherent Intra-Tennessee rivalry. For those who care about the NBA at all, according to a May 23, 2014 article in The New York Times, they tend to divide their fandom among the "cool teams": The Los Angeles Lakers, the Chicago Bulls, the Miami Former LeBrons, and the Cleveland Once-and-Again LeBrons.

The city's current pro soccer team, Nashville FC, began play in 2013, in the National Premier Soccer League, the 4th tier of American soccer. It plays at Vanderbilt Stadium. The nearest Major League Soccer team is the Columbus Crew, 383 miles away, at least until the 2017 season, when Atlanta United begin play.

UPDATE: In May 2016, the United Soccer League, the 3rd tier of American soccer, announced that a team would begin play in Nashville in 2018. It is possible that they will simply buy out Nashville FC, and promote it. This would also save them from having to build a new stadium from scratch, or renovate Herschel Greer Stadium for soccer use, as Nashville FC have considered.

Don't expect Nashville to get teams in MLB, the NBA or MLS: The South really doesn't care about soccer, the metro area would rank 28th in population among NBA markets, and it would rank 31st, dead last, in baseball.

* Ryman Auditorium. If country music has a Yankee Stadium or a Madison Square Garden, this is it. The Mother Church of Country Music, a.k.a. the Carnegie Hall of the South, is easily the most 2nd-most famous building in the State of Tennessee, behind Graceland, the Memphis home of Elvis Presley, who performed at the Ryman very early in his career, on October 2, 1954.

Opened in 1892, it began hosting the weekly Grand Ole Opry ("grand old opera") radio show on Nashville radio station WSM in 1943 (though the show had been broadcast since 1925). The Auditorium seats 2,362 people, and with stars announced ahead of time, there were occasions when thousands had to be turned away.

By the 1960s, the building had deteriorated, and complaints about the dressing rooms grew louder: The men had to share a small one, and the women had to use a restroom. Roy Acuff, often called the King of Country Music, bought an adjacent building just so he'd have a decent place to change. And a new house for the Opry was planned. A wooden circle was cut from the stage, and transplanted to the new Opry House, much like home plate or a square of sod is sometimes removed from an old ballpark and put in the new one.

"I never want another note of music played in that building," Acuff said. He had reason beyond his bitterness over the dressing room: He was a major stakeholder in Opryland USA. (He was a bit about the money: In 1948, he was the Republican nominee for Governor of Tennessee. He lost.) But he died in 1992, and, against heavy odds, the building survived him. Ed Gaylord of Gaylord Entertainment bought the building's parent company, and had it restored.

The Ryman reopened in 1994, with its main entrance moved from the west side on 5th Avenue to the east side on 4th, plus an addition that included, yes, suitable dressing rooms, and, for the first time in its 102-year history, air conditioning. In 2012, the original stage (all but a small portion of it, left for historical reasons) was replaced as part of new renovations.

The Opry has returned every winter, while still broadcasting from its new home the rest of the year. ABC broadcast The Johnny Cash Show live from the Ryman, and Cash -- whose birthday would have been today, February 26, were he still alive -- is among those country legends whose memorial service has been held there.

The revival of the Ryman has coincided with the revival of downtown Nashville, including the construction of the Arena, the Stadium, and the city's first real skyscrapers. 116 5th Avenue North.

* Nashville Municipal Auditorium. While Elvis had many recording sessions in Nashville, after 1954 he didn't give another concert in the city until July 1, 1973, a matinee and an evening show at the Municipal Auditorium.

Opened in 1962, it still hosts concerts and sporting events. It's hosted minor-league hockey, and had the Devils actually moved to Nashville for the 1995-96 season, it's likely they'd have played at the Auditorium for a year before what's now the Bridgestone Arena opened. 417 4th Avenue North, downtown, 3 blocks from the State House.

The Beatles never performed in Nashville as a unit, although individual members did so on their solo tours.

* Grand Ole Opry House. As with sports venues, the Opry decided in the 1960s to leave the city for the suburbs, and create a family atmosphere, even adding an amusement park. Opryland USA opened in 1972, and the Grand Ole Opry House in 1974. The oak circle from the Ryman stage was placed at center stage, and lead singers stand there.

The new theater (no longer so new) seats about 4,000, and had all the amenities that the Ryman did not yet have. I visited Nashville in 1991, before it became a major league sports city, and the group I was with visited Opryland USA and had a great time. But I wanted to see the Ryman. I knew I couldn't get inside, but I still wanted to reach out and touch the brick.

Of course, at this time, Camden Yards was rewriting the rules for stadium and arena construction, and cities took back their leadership role from the suburbs. Attendance dropped, and in 1997, Gaylord Entertainment closed the theme park. The Opry House remained in operation, and the Opry Mills shopping mall and the Opryland Resort & Convention Center opened on the site of the park in 2000.

When the Cumberland River flooded in 2010, my first concern should have been for the people -- and 31 people died, in 3 States -- but it was for the Ryman. Instead, it sustained only minor damage, while the Arena, the Stadium, and the Opry House all got socked, especially the Opry House. It was able to reopen in 6 months, while the show was broadcast from the Ryman and other Nashville locations. 433 Opry Mills Drive, about 9 miles east of downtown. Number 34 bus.

* Museums. Nashville isn't all about country music, although within a few steps of the Ryman (and the Arena) are museums dedicated to Johnny Cash (119 3rd Avenue S.) and George Jones (128 2nd Avenue N.), and the music in general at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum (222 5th Avenue S.).

The Tennessee State Museum depicts the State's history, including the Native America, colonial, early Statehood and Civil War periods. Its collection of Civil War memorabilia is one of the largest. It shares a downtown building with the Tennessee Performing Arts Center -- a boring-looking 1981 building that replaced its former home, the much more appropriate 1929 War Memorial Building. 505 Deaderick Street, between 5th & 6th Avenues.

There are 3 Presidents with connections to Tennessee. Al Gore should have made it 4, and he made enough mistakes that, if he had done any one of them differently, his rightful victory would have been too big to get stolen from him. But, like the 3 who actually did get into the White House, he wasn't born in Tennessee, but rather in Washington, D.C., when his father, Albert Sr., was a Congressman. (Both father and son would serve Tennessee in each house of Congress.) As for the other 3, 2 were born in North Carolina, and the other might have been: Andrew Jackson was born somewhere near the Carolina State Line, although no one is sure precisely where, and both North and South Carolina claim him.

But the 7th President (serving from 1829 to 1837) and War of 1812 General nicknamed Old Hickory is best known, as far as his residences are concerned, for being one of the founding fathers of the State of Tennessee.

The Hermitage was a plantation he owned from 1804 until his death in 1845. On that property, he and his wife Rachel lived in a log cabin until the main house was completed in 1821. It burned in 1834, and he then had the current house built. Today, conspiracy theorists would have blamed Henry Clay or the Bank of the United States for the fire, even though Jackson himself didn't. (He did, however, blame his political opponents for the smears against both him and Rachel that gave her a heart attack that killed her between the 1828 election and the 1829 Inauguration.)

Aside from George Washington's Mount Vernon and Elvis' Graceland, it's the most-visited former private home in America. 4580 Rachels Lane, in the town of Hermitage, 12 miles east of downtown. It's on a section of the Cumberland River known as Old Hickory Lake. The Number 6 bus gets you to within a mile and a half, and the bus and the walk combined takes about an hour.

The State Capitol, which opened just before the Civil War in 1859, contains the tomb of James K. Polk, the 11th President (1845 to 1849), and his wife Sarah. The man who waged the Mexican-American War and gained us a huge chunk of our West, including all of California, he has been hailed as a visionary and assailed as a warmonger and a racist. He chose to serve only one term, and died just 3 months after leaving office, the shortest retirement of any ex-President. Sarah outlived him by 42 years, a record for a Presidential widow, and only Grover Cleveland's wife Frances, at 50 years, had a longer retirement from being First Lady. 600 Charlotte Avenue.

The other President with a Tennessee connection is Andrew Johnson, the 17th President, who succeeded to the office on the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in 1865, and was impeached for a ridiculous reason: He fired his Secretary of War (also Lincoln's), Edwin Stanton, without the permission of the Senate. He believed that the law barring him from doing so was unconstitutional, and when the aforementioned President Cleveland challenged it in 1886, the Supreme Court said they were both right. For all the good it did Johnson: Surviving his Senate trial by 1 vote, he knew he couldn't get elected on his own in 1868, got back into the Senate in 1874 (welcomed by the men who had tried him with a standing ovation), and died the next year.

He was an unrepentant racist, making it odd that Lincoln would choose him for the Vice Presidency in 1864 (it was because he was the only Southern Senator who stayed loyal to the Union when his State seceded), and he remains a contender for the title of worst President ever. His hometown of Greenville, Tennessee is 250 miles east of Nashville. His museum is at 67 Gilland Street. (Charlotte, North Carolina is actually the closest major league city to Greenville, but it's not close.)

There's actually a 4th President with a minor connection to Nashville: In 2008, Barack Obama and John McCain had the 2nd of their 3 debates at the Black Box Theatre at Belmont University. Compton Avenue at Belmont Blvd., about 3 miles southwest of downtown. Number 2 bus.

Five of the six tallest buildings in Tennessee are in Nashville, only one in the larger city (but not larger metro area) of Memphis. The tallest went up in 1994, but has already changed names with one phone-service company buying out another: The South Central Bell Building, the BellSouth Building, and now the AT&T Building. At 617 feet high, its twin-spired roof has led to it being nicknamed the Batman Building. 333 Commerce Street.

Many music-themed movies have used Nashville as both a setting and a film location, including biopics of Elvis (Elvis, starring Kurt Russell), Patsy Cline (Sweet Dreams, starring Jessica Lange) and Loretta Lynn (Coal Miner's Daughter, starring Sissy Spacek). Each of these included the Ryman as a filming location. While the current ABC TV drama Nashville is filmed in Los Angeles, the 1975 film of the same title was filmed on location.

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Nashville is more than history and music, as important as those things are. It's also the home of an NHL team that, while not yet very successful, is usually good, has developed quite a following among people you wouldn't think would take to hockey, and is now another good reason to visit this legendary city.