Well all good things must come to and end and unfortunately our family vacation in the Smoky Mountains was no exception. Today was my first day back at work and reality hit hard! Though I will admit it felt great to be back in my own bed after 10 days of travel.
Before we headed out to Tennessee my best friend had set me up with one of her old employees from Vanderbilt who now works for the Titans. Her name is Kristen and she’s probably my new favorite person. I’ll tell you why: we grabbed a quick cup of coffee before heading back to the stadium on Monday and when we were walking to her car, she walked up to a black Ford F-150. I asked her if it was hers or her boyfriend’s and she said hers. Oh yeah – she’s awesome.
Kristen is originally from New Jersey but attended Vanderbilt for her undergraduate studies where she received a degree in education. That’s the fun thing about sports – a lot of people find it by accident and have totally irrelevant degrees. I absolutely love hearing those stories about their paths to sports because they obviously had such a different plan when they stepped foot onto their college campus.
Originally Kristen started out with the Titans after college as an intern and then was hired on full-time as the assistant to the head coach…
Our look at the stadium was brief but was plenty for me to work with considering I had never seen it before. The Titans are unique in the sense that it is one of the few stadiums that’s actually located in its city’s downtown area. It’s even more unique in the sense that it’s located right alongside the river. It’s absolutely gorgeous and makes for an awesome view inside the stadium clubs!
Nissan Stadium in all of its glory! The stadium was built in 1999 and holds around 65,000 people. So it’s an older stadium. Kristen was telling me that they are in the running for the 2026 World Cup but updates need to happen before that progresses. She also mentioned that the lease on the stadium is up in 2020 and she thinks that’ll be the point that they really dive into reconstructing the stadium.
Whenever we were in Memphis, my dad and I noticed the Tennessee state flag hanging in a restaurant and asked about the three stars and whatnot. Honestly, we would have never made the connection to the Titans logo if it wasn’t for seeing the flag hanging. But now we know why the three stars are all over Titans Stadium!
You really kind of forget that red is one of the Titans’ colors since they wear so much white and blue, so I really liked that they had a ton of red accents on the stadium!
Obviously with a name like Nissan Stadium, you’d expect to see some Nissans on display. They definitely didn’t skip this – they were everywhere. While I’m not a fan of Nissan, it was pretty cool to see all the displays they set up. I still wonder how they get these cars set up the way they are… AT&T Stadium in Dallas has Fords everywhere, too (and Dr. Pepper!)
The stadium offices were located right next to the will call and ticket pick up. That’s where we started our little mini tour of Nissan Stadium – and first up was their field.
So the first thing I noticed was the blank field. Kristen filled me in that there’s a soccer team that plays in the stadium and that they had it set up for one of their games and had just stripped the painting. Their turf doesn’t pull up and is real grass, so they just repaint it whenever they have events. Nissan Stadium also hosts large concerts.
Next we headed up to their press box. Again, old stadium equals smaller press box. The first pro football stadium I ever worked in was the Cowboys’ Stadium… so I’m pretty spoiled. But given that Kristen said this stadium is about to undergo a serious facelift I’m glad I got to see what it looked like before!
Their press box was spacey but definitely outdated compared to the rest. The Titans just received a new head coach and their owner is actually a female. Kristen adores their owner, Amy Strunk.
Nissan Stadium has two identical clubs for season ticket holders on each side of their stadium. Kristen had an event going on all weekend that was set up in the one that we went into, which I thought was pretty cool. It was a blood drive competition between the city’s fire, police, and EMS and they called it the “Battle of the Badges.” The last picture was them finishing up the final donor of the competition, who was for EMS!
For those who want to work in the sports industry, let’s take a minute to just talk about something that happens quite frequently in the industry – reassignment. When the new head coach arrived for the Titans, Kristen took a reassignment in stadium events and now does all of the events that come through Nissan Stadium. The new head coach brought in his own assistant and therefore Kristen was reassigned. This is extremely common with coaching changes and is probably something that not a lot of people think about.
Kristen loved her job before, but she also loves her job now. They’re very different positions and it was great to hear her story and her pros and cons to both areas. Given that my biggest fear in sports is the job security, it was so helpful getting to sit down with Kristen and hear her first-hand experience.
Offseason equals construction so we weren’t able to check out the Titans’ locker room. It was being totally reconstructed while I was visiting. So instead, we checked out the post-game interview room and the player entry tunnel
We ended on the field, which was so weird seeing it plain!
As far as Nissan Stadium goes, that’s all I have for today. It wasn’t an extensive tour, but I definitely plan on visiting Kristen again for a game. Marcus Mariota was the 2nd overall pick of the 2015 NFL Draft to the Titans and was an Oregon alumni. Check back later this week to see my visit to Oregon’s state-of-the-art football facility and take a look inside their new Sports Performance Center named for him!
I’ll leave you with a couple quick snapshots of the rest of our awesome family vacation… Thanks for reading!
Okay so anyone that knows me knows how absolutely terrified I am of heights. But somehow I got talked into zip lining… and it was awesome! Our tour guides, Tyler and Sam, were hilarious and we loved them. If you’re ever in the Smoky Mountains, I highly recommend this place!
We also waited an hour and a half in line for Hattie B’s Hot Chicken in Nashville, Tennessee. Was it worth the wait? Absolutely. But… we did get rained on. So enjoy the picture of my poor parents struggling to get the ponchos on mid-pour.
And then I, of course, couldn’t leave out the picture of my sweet dad carrying my pink suitcase onto the plane because I had three carry-ons… Love you daddy-o!