The brand new, state-of-the-art Bellevue Ice Center, set to open this month, is a giant leap for the organization to reach more of the outlying Nashville neighborhoods and infect more and more youngsters with the hockey disease. The renderings released in January are pretty impeccable, and it's going to be a hot new attraction for the often sleepy suburb.
But for Bellevue millennials and some of the older Gen-Zs, seeing the new development is a little melancholy.
Many of us loved the Preds, but couldn't justify asking our parents to drive us to the Centennial Sportsplex, or even the newer Ford Ice Center, every day to learn how to skate ourselves. It's the south, so our childhood sports were largely baseball, soccer, and football. The idea of playing hockey was far-fetched and somewhat irrational.
I grew up in Bellevue from the time I was three, during years 2000 to 2015. Bellevue was the lame suburb to live- the infamous mall closed in 2007 and took with it essentially our only claim to local tourism. Once the Nashville West shopping center opened on Charlotte Pike, no one came any closer to Bellevue. The Regal Cinemas was destroyed in the 2010 flood and we were left with the Carmike, which you could barely even call a movie theater without feeling like you were lying. The last straw we had left to grab was the Loveless Cafe, which is hardly in Bellevue any more than it is in Franklin. Oh, a river runs through it, too.
The past several years, as with the exponential growth of the entire Nashville area, Bellevue has felt some of that positive windfall. The depressing husk of the Bellevue Mall was demolished to make room for the new One Bellevue Place shopping area, which looks more like a town within a town rather than a retail hub- and it has a new, recliner-laden theater!
I, as well as my Bellevue friends, have come to accept the fact that our lame suburb is now kind of "hip", as the baby boomers like to say. Now, the Nashville Predators have noticed.
Before the Preds started to become consistent competitors (let's say around 2014, arguably), they shared similar qualities with Bellevue. The Preds were frequently dismissed as average and uninteresting, and did not necessarily warrant a chunk of time to be carved out of your day to be spent thinking about them. The hockey team was usually brought up a while after you finished talking about the beloved Titans, as was Bellevue when you couldn't possibly say anything else about Brentwood.
The Preds "got good" just as the last of the millennial generation had packed up and left Bellevue for whatever reason, and the first Gen-Zs were soon to follow. Bellevue, and the entire city of Nashville, left us in the dust.
The Bellevue Ice Center will be a wonderfully inclusive space for local kids who are starry-eyed for players like Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson, rather than David Legwand and Shea Weber. It's great, it really is. But that twinge of jealousy is still there. Us twenty-somethings feel like we missed the bus to Disney World by just two minutes.
We take solace in the fact that we were not, after all, bred from a place of stagnancy. Our suburb grew up, our city grew up, and our hockey team grew up with each other. They just waited to grow up with a different set of kids. At least now we can attend a *cough cough* victory parade and legally drink alcohol!
All we ask is for one free skate session in return. We have ID.