How Bridgestone Arena avoided months-long closure after being flooded by water main break

The flooding that took place at Bridgestone Arena after a water main broke last week could have led to the building being shut down for months, Nashville Predators CEO Sean Henry said Tuesday. Instead, the Predators will return to action on Tuesday night (7 p.m., Bally Sports South) at the facility against the Anaheim Ducks, just five days after the flood.

A restoration effort by the arena staff, more than 30 public works agencies, vendors and other private companies paid off over the weekend to make Tuesday's game possible.

"It would have been really easy to shut the building down for 20, 30, 40, 50 days," Henry said. "Relocate the games; work a deal with another city. Temporarily cancel or postpone concerts. But we sat together on Friday night, Saturday and Sunday and said, 'How do we host all those events?' because it's an important thing that we do."

Crews work on 6th Ave. S. after a water main break flooded Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn., Friday, Nov. 25, 2022. Friday's NHL hockey game between the Nashville Predators game against the Colorado Avalanche was postponed due to the flooding. (Andrew Nelles/The Tennessean via AP)
Crews work on 6th Ave. S. after a water main break flooded Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn., Friday, Nov. 25, 2022. Friday's NHL hockey game between the Nashville Predators game against the Colorado Avalanche was postponed due to the flooding. (Andrew Nelles/The Tennessean via AP)

Two games — Colorado last Friday and Columbus on Saturday — were postponed. After Tuesday, the Predators don't have another home game scheduled until Dec. 10 against Ottawa but a Maren Morris concert at Bridgestone Arena will take place Friday as scheduled.

Henry said an announcement will come soon about when the games against Colorado and Columbus will be made up.

There was a flood?

When the Anaheim Ducks arrived Tuesday at Bridgestone Arena for their morning skate, some of the players, coaches and administrators were surprised to see the facility in such good condition.

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"We just talked to a few of the Ducks people and they all said, 'Wow, where was the flood?'" Henry said. "They were looking all around and we were like, 'It's where you're standing.' We're really proud of our whole team, all of our city partners and our sponsors for getting us to where we are now."

There is no way to know exactly how much water poured into the building after the water main broke at approximately 5 a.m. Friday and before it was shut off about two hours later, but Henry said it's safe to say it was in the millions of gallons.

The main broke near the concourse and flowed from there to the event level. The water level reached several feet in some areas and only inches in others.

Standing water was visible inside Bridgestone Arena after a water main break early Friday morning.
Standing water was visible inside Bridgestone Arena after a water main break early Friday morning.

Hundreds helped with the cleanup

More than 100 people associated with the arena, Metro Water Services, Case Restoration Company and other agencies were in the building to start the cleanup by 8 a.m., and 300 were there by 11 a.m.

"You looked around and you didn't know everyone in the building but it was a pretty cool thing," Henry said. "Everyone responded so, so quickly to get the water off, to get the water out of the building, which we're still working out, and then we went to the dry out mechanism."

More than 1,000 box fans were brought into the building for the drying process along with temporary duct work being put into place.

Some ceiling panels were damaged and will have to be replaced on the event level at Bridgestone Arena after being damaged by flood waters when a water main broke near the building last week.
Some ceiling panels were damaged and will have to be replaced on the event level at Bridgestone Arena after being damaged by flood waters when a water main broke near the building last week.

"For 24 hours a day four days in a row everyone was in this building making sure we could get back to where we could be," Henry said. "The fact we're hosting a game tonight is pretty remarkable. There's really good news around tragedy sometimes and this tragedy's a pretty small tragedy. No one was hurt. We lost some money, some equipment ... we don't know the full extent of the financial damage, but it's extensive."

Henry said over the next 3 to 6 months every part of the building's electrical system and every piece of video equipment will be taken apart to be examined and possibly replaced.

What caused the break?

There is no way to know exactly why the water main broke, according to director of Metro Water Services Scott Potter, but such breaks are common along the 3,000 miles of pipe and more than 200,000 connections in the city.

Nashville experienced a moderate drought earlier this month, which may have played a role in the break.

"We're not surprised when things break," Potter said. "Our first priority is to get the water shut off and I think we did that relatively quickly. That's the first thing for us is to stop the damage. Unfortunately, we deal with this pretty regularly when we have temperature inversions or droughts. Ground shifts can cause breaks like this."

The baseboard was removed and holes drilled into the walls in some places in Bridgestone Arena to promote drying from the flood that occurred last week when a water main broke.
The baseboard was removed and holes drilled into the walls in some places in Bridgestone Arena to promote drying from the flood that occurred last week when a water main broke.

The fan experience

Fans may experience some inconveniences at Tuesday's game as a result of the flood. Some of the elevators will be out of service and some concession stands won't be open. Fans may also notice in some areas baseboards have been removed and holes drilled into the walls to expedite the drying out process.

Fans may also notice some damage the staff isn't aware of.

"Chances are we'll know about everything we might get notified by our fans," Henry said. "But I hope they'll continue to do what they do and let us know, 'Hey, I noticed this,' or 'You might want to be aware of that.' But we really don't expect much outside of the elevators."

Reach Mike Organ at 615-259-8021 or on Twitter @MikeOrganWriter.

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: How Bridgestone Arena reopened in days instead of months after flood