From left to right: Mr. Gov, Austin Peay Director of Athletics Gerald Harrison, Nashville Predators president Sean Henry and Gnash celebrate the union between the two programs.

One of Tennessee’s most beloved sports teams is on its way to Clarksville, and they celebrated with their business partners — the Austin Peay State Governors — on Saturday, Nov. 20..

With the building of Clarksville’s new crown jewel, F&M Bank Arena, the Nashville Predators are proud to bring the city it’s first multi-purpose arena with the hopes of connecting Smashville with Stacheville.

“This came about, gosh, we’ve been working on this (for) eight years, almost nine years,” said Predators president Sean Henry. “But it really took another level when Mayor Durrett got involved. We started having one-on-one conversations, and what I love about him is his passion and his vision for what it could be. So many people focus on what it is now, what’s in front of us. He’s always said we could be bigger and better, so he said ‘let’s build an arena.’ I said ‘yeah, ice centers are like arenas’ and he said ‘no, like an arena. Like Bridgestone Arena here.’”

The arena is expected to house 6,000 spectators. It’ll house two ice rinks, Austin Peay basketball, concerts and other events.

“This building that we’re building, F&M Bank Center, can be one of those legendary homes of a really, really strong program,” Henry said. “At the same time, we’re connecting what I think is the best sport in the world, and that’s hockey, because this is such a hotbed of hockey. And not just because of all the men and the women that have served or chosen to stay in this community after they retired, but we had a chance to percolate everything we do in this city.”

Hockey fans in Clarksville can expect to see the Predators practice occasionally at the arena. Henry and the Predators also hope that the new building can spark interest in the city, as there are currently no schools in Montgomery County with varsity hockey programs.

“When kids get the chance to play hockey, whether it be young boys or young girls, and play other sports, they always perform better in the other sports or school,” Henry said. “I don’t knock any of those sports, I love all those sports, they’re important to me, but I think the more sports kids play, the better it is for them. Every kid that plays hockey becomes a better teammate in other sports, it’s that simple.

“(Greater Nashville) will benefit by adding, at least, I hope, two high school teams, if not more. But at minimum two high school teams in the very near future. Next year we’re going to start working on JV programs that can be housed right here, then mature that on up… There’s nothing better than wearing your high school crest on your chest. There just isn’t.”

In addition to APSU basketball and hockey, the arena could be the premier home for concerts in Clarksville. Henry hopes to bring up-and-coming music acts along with openers for Bridgestone Arena shows to the arena.

The project is set to be finished by the end of 2022.

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