Country Music Hall of Fame. Tennessee Titans. Vanderbilt Commodores.
The city of Nashville has some great attractions but we were there for basketball. Our main reason for making the trip was to see the University of Texas play at Rupp Arena in Lexington, KY but after looking at various options to make the trip more memorable I stumbled onto the basketball game in Nashville. It just so happened that fellow Big 12 school, Baylor, would be playing against Vanderbilt the night before the main attraction. And I'm definitely not the person to turn down more basketball.
We made the arrangements to fly into Nashville on Thursday morning and spent the day exploring the city thanks to recommendations from the car rental employees and Apple maps. The recommendations were spot on and I would encourage you to eat at Martin's BBQ and visit the Country Music Hall of Fame. For a first time visitor it seemed like a fun place to live with the music scene and 2 large colleges added to the government part of things, it reminded me a little of Austin.
As the night closed in we checked in to the hotel and headed to Memorial Gymnasium on the campus of Vanderbilt. Neither me nor my dad knew what to expect from either team, but we knew it would be a fun experience to visit a new gym and see two teams we didn't know much about. While I was in middle school and high school we used to make trips to see various playoff games featuring schools we didn't follow so this trip had that same feeling.
As we entered the gym we felt a rush of excitement that soon lead to slight confusion. We were used to entering the stadium and being able to see into the gym but at Memorial Gymnasium it felt like we had come in the back door and weren't supposed to be in this part of the building. We figured if we weren't supposed to be there someone would stop us so we continued following the halls until we could hear the music coming form the court. While we were walking around we both felt like we were in a large high school gym because there weren't many directional signs and you could smell the popcorn in every hall we walked through. Eventually we found our seats and settled in for a fun game.
The court is unique because the benches are setup on the baselines as opposed to the sideline and the court sits about 3 feet above the ground, like a stage. The gym opened in 1952 and has had a few renovations but still has a unique old-school feeling about it. Vanderbilt's band wasn't very big so hearing them play without mics added to the old time feeling, as I imagine it. Our seats were located in the middle section on the sideline. It was unique because the ceiling is very low and when the house lights are dimmed during game play you get a feeling that you are watching a basketball movie. There is no view of the main center scoreboard but you could follow the score on two boards hung on the corners of the gym.
After the game we walked down to take some photos near the court and finally got to see the whole gym. It was very bright once you walked down to the lower section and didn't feel as claustrophobic as when we were sitting in our seats.
The whole experience was amazing but it only set the stage for our main event.
Rupp Arena and the Kentucky Wildcats.