“We ballin’ like the March Madness.”
It was a last-minute decision to head to Nashville to see my alma mater play in the first round of March Madness. Georgia State University had been down this road three years ago when R.J. Hunter hit a three pointer that gave the Panthers a one point lead over Baylor in the second round and coach Ron Hunter fell off of his scooter. The first and last time I filled out a bracket and I had GSU for the win. What a time!
With Georgia State back in the tournament playing against the University of Cincinnati, I had to be there. Me and my friends hit the road to Nashville and made it to the Bridgestone Arena with about twenty minutes to spare before the start of the game. My one and only complaint about my experience was the way the lines were “set up” upon entering the arena. It was a hot, unorganized mess. I entered in the Nissan entrance and there weren’t any stanchion ropes at each door to guide the crowd. It was a free for all. A sea of people. Not having organization made the process take a bit longer than needed.
Once inside, the merchandise table was immediately to the right and the escalator to access the upper levels of the arena wasn’t too far away. I was sitting in section 332 and it felt like the long walk R&B singer Jill Scott sang about…a very scenic route. I thought I made it to my seat but unlike Beyoncé, I didn’t know that 1+1 =2 because section 322 wasn’t 332 but I finally made it with eight minutes left in the first half. My seat mates were Cincinnati fans as were the rest of the side of the arena I was sitting on. As Nicki Minaj sang in ‘No Frauds’, pick a side, pick a side…I picked the wrong side. What’s a lonely Panther to do? Cheer!
Halftime comes and halftime goes. Those twenty minutes felt like ten. I ventured back downstairs to purchase some March Madness keepsakes and to my surprise, the wait time was only a few minutes. While I didn’t eat at the arena, I was impressed with one of the concessions on the upper level having machines where you order and pay for your food and then pick up your order at the counter. This is a dope concept and more arenas/stadiums should have these kind of options. Bridgestone Arena also has a first aid station. This was my first time visiting another arena and it was dope.
The Panthers couldn’t or didn’t or wouldn’t play in the capacity that they had been playing all season and lost to the Bearcats 63-58. They literally gave up in the second half as if they were being blown out and that was quite a disappointment. Was this my team? Sadly it was. I have no doubt that the Panthers can make another return in the year(s) to come.
The arena is right off of Broadway Street which reminded me of Beale Street in Memphis. A strip of restaurants and shops that leads to the Riverfront. The sidewalks were littered with fans of all ages and an atmosphere filled with fun and laughter no matter how your team did. My friends and I decided to eat at Merchants and it was an A1 decision. We sat at the bar and once again my seat mates were Cincinnati fans…they were extremely nice. The ladies left us with their school chat, I left them the gift of Cardi B. I wonder if they took my advice of listening to ‘Bodak Yellow’ before going to see their team play Nevada. My only hope is that they did. We left the restaurant and headed to the Riverfront. What a beautiful sight to see.
Nashville is a small but beautiful city and it owes me nothing. My first March Madness fan experience was a great one. I thoroughly had an incredible time in just eight hours. Future said it best,“We ballin’ like the March Madness,” and ball we did!