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Arena now named the Sommet Center

Friday, 05.18.2007 / 11:00 AM / News
By Doug Brumley  - Nashville Predators
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Arena now named the Sommet Center

Craig Leipold and Brian Whitfield unveil Sommet Center sign
Photo by Doug Brumley
Predators owner Craig Leipold (left) and Sommet Group managing partner Brian Whitfield unveil the Sommet Center logo during a press conference held on the arena's plaza Friday morning.

Nashville Predators and Powers Management owner Craig Leipold announced Friday that the Middle Tennessee-based Sommet Group has entered into a multi-year naming-rights partnership with the Predators and Powers Management.  Effective immediately, the Nashville Arena will be known as "The Sommet Center."  The partnership includes a prominent arena facade, branding and a suite.

Sommet (pronounced So-may) is an established collection of companies whose purpose is to relieve small and medium-sized businesses throughout the United States of their non-revenue generating business functions such as human resources administration, payroll processing, insurance and risk management, tailored benefits programs, information technology consulting and customized software development.

Comments following Friday's press conference:

Craig Leipold, Nashville Predators and Powers Management owner  (2:41)

Brian Whitfield, Sommet Group co-founder and managing partner  (2:14)

"Sommet Group has shown tremendous faith in the Predators organization and is leading the rally in the business community to support this team and this building," said Leipold.

The partnership gives Sommet Group prominent signage inside and outside the arena and a variety of business development opportunities. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. The Sommet Group and the Predators will also create a community-based initiative through the Predators Foundation that will both improve technology in underserved communities and schools, and which will place internet-ready computers in kiosks at nursing homes so that residents can stay in close touch with their families.

"In its first year as a sponsor, Sommet Group saw first-hand the value that the Predators can deliver to the companies business-to-business strategies and became the Predators first title partner for the playoffs in 2007," said Nashville Predators Executive Vice President of Business Affairs Steve Violetta. "Now the two successful organizations will be branded together through a variety of promotional and communications vehicles, and will continue to maximize the value that Sommet receives with a multi-year naming-rights agreement."

Brian Whitfield
Co-founder and Managing Partner, Sommet Group

Brian Whitfield is managing partner of Sommet Group, which he co-founded with Ed Todd in 2003. The company, headquartered in Franklin, a suburb of Nashville, Tenn., is enjoying a year after year growth rate far in excess of 100%.

The Sommet Group manages more than 5,000 work site employees in 12 states. It is a collection of companies that relieve businesses throughout the United States of their non-revenue-generating business functions such as human resources administration, payroll processing, insurance and risk management, tailored benefits programs, information technology consulting and customized software development.

Before forming Sommet Group, Whitfield built companies in fields as diverse as genetic testing and web based e-learning. In these growth-oriented companies, he came to understand the constant management challenge of handling "back office" tasks and thus envisioned the need for a company which could skillfully take over those duties. In 2003, that company was born as the Sommet Group.

And although Brian Whitfield is a successful entrepreneur with many far-reaching accomplishments, his greatest joy is his family. Brian and Marsha Whitfield have two daughters, ages 7 and 9.

Sommet Group Managing Parnter Brian Whitfield and Leipold unveiled the arena's new logo and signage. The Sommet Center name will be affixed to the exterior of the building and will be visible on the Broadway side of the Center to all visitors of downtown Nashville.  In addition to interior and exterior signage, Sommet Center visitors will notice in-arena branding on the building's marquees and in-arena graphics on the building's new jumbotron, which will debut in September.

"The Nashville Predators mean a lot to me and my family. We were instantly drawn to the fast pace of their game, to the dynamic personalities of the players and to the bold vision of the city in building this venue. Words can barely express how thrilled I am that our company's name is associated with this distinctive landmark - the Sommet Center," said Whitfield. "The word ‘sommet' means ‘summit.' This beautiful building that has welcomed more than 10 million guests as home to the Predators, Nashville Kats and hundreds of entertainment and civic events certainly deserves the title of "The Summit". The Sommet Group is honored to be included in this great tradition."

Press conference introducing the newly renamed Sommet Center (9:58)

About the Sommet Center
The Sommet Center celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2006, and has hosted more than 10 million guests. It has become Nashville's No. 1 venue for large-scale musical productions, as well as one of the nation's most highly acclaimed entertainment and sports venues. Seating capacity is approximately 20,000 for concerts, 19,395 for basketball and 17,113 for Nashville Predators games.

About Sommet Group
Sommet Group is an established, family-owned collection of companies that makes life better for businesses across the United States. It offers human resources administration, payroll processing, insurance and risk management services, tailored benefits programs, as well as information technology consulting and customized software development. The Sommet Group takes on a clients' administrative burdens - in most cases saving them money - and always resulting in the client's ability to spend more time growing the business.

Sommet Center Facts

The Building

  • Features a 22-story tower that (in its base) houses the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau Visitors' Center, the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame and a 70-seat theater.
  • From floor to ceiling, the highest point in the Sommet Center reaches 130 feet (about the height of a 13-story building) with the roof covering eight acres.
  • Square footage totals more than 1 million.
  • There are four levels of seating at the arena.  Handicapped-accessible seating is available at every level and the building holds two escalators.
  • 42 luxury suites are located on the second level of the arena and 30 suites are located on level three.
  • The Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) operates a state-of-the-art Visitor Information Center in the glass tower of the Sommet Center.  The staffed center, which welcomes more than half a million visitors a year, is open seven days a week, with extended hours in the summer and during Sommet Center events.  In addition to literature, maps, discount coupons and general information, the center features exhibits, children's programming ideas, an on-line information station and a great selection of Nashville merchandise.  For more information, visit www.nashvillecvb.com
  • The Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame Museum is a 7,200-sq.-ft. facility located on the main level of the Sommet Center. The Museum features interactive games and displays such as a Nashville Predators showcase, a virtual reality one-on-one basketball game, a strength training apparatus used by Olympic swimmers, college football and basketball exhibits, NASCAR video games, two 30-seat theaters with sports videos and more.
  • The 260-seat, 7,000-sq.-ft. Suite Level Club is located on the lower suite level and is accessible from Fifth Avenue.  A central kitchen and full catering facility serves the club as well as the suites and club seats.  The fine-dining experience is open before and after games and hosts a number of banquets and receptions.  To make reservations, call (615) 770-2477.
  • The 225-seat All-Inclusive Zone is at the south end of the facility overlooking the ice.  In addition, the Sommet Center's club-level bar and grill on the building's west side has been upgraded to feature cafe-style tables and seating.
  • A 13,500-square-foot rehearsal hall is connected to the Sommet Center.  The space, used by a number of touring acts, is available for rent.
  • The Predators Pro Shop is located in the main lobby and is accessible from the entrance at Fifth and Broadway. For store hours and information, please call (615) 770-2434.
  • The Sommet Center hosts Metro's Registry of Deeds (615-862-6790) and the Metro North Police precinct.
  • Linked to the Nashville Convention Center by a climate-controlled underground pedestrian walkway, the building is able to accommodate large conventions and major national entertainment and sporting events.
  • An attached parking garage includes 250 parking spaces for suiteholders, handicapped patrons and regular patron parking. There are more than 12,500 public parking spaces located within a 10-minute walk from the facility.
  • The Sommet Center is conveniently located less than a half-mile from I-65, I-24 and I-40 and within one mile of seven major local interchanges.

History

  • The entrance to the Sommet Center is positioned on the corner of Broadway and Fifth Avenue facing the Ryman Auditorium, the original home of the Grand Ole Opry.  The architects designed this as a tribute to Nashville's music roots.
  • The development of the Center exemplifies the city's changing persona and has been a catalyst for other projects in the surrounding area including the Country Music Hall of Fame, the downtown public library, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts and the Schermerhorn Symphony Center.
  • Initiated by Nashville Mayor Phil Bredesen and approved by the Metro/Davidson County Council in 1993, the Sommet Center uniquely embraces Nashville's heritage as "Music City, U.S.A."
  • For the event planner, the spectator, the athlete and the performer, the Center is equipped to deliver the latest in high-quality, user-friendly features. A soundstage-quality rehearsal hall is a part of the facility, making the arena a perfect site for concert performers.

Sports Events

  • In addition to serving as the home of the Nashville Predators, the Sommet Center welcomed back the Nashville Kats (Arena Football League) in 2005.
  • The facility has hosted a wide variety of sporting events including the U.S. National Figure Skating Championship (1997), the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament (2000, 2003 and 2005), the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament (2001 and 2006), the SEC Women's Basketball Tournament (2002 and 2004) and the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. 

Community and Entertainment Events

  • Community events at the facility have included the annual Mayor's First Day Festival and the Country Freedom Concert benefiting the Salvation Army Disaster Relief Fund.
  • Featured performers have included Justin Timberlake, Garth Brooks, Elton John and Billy Joel, Metallica, Pavarotti, Cher, Toby Keith, Simon & Garfunkel, Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, Neil Diamond, Tina Turner, Alan Jackson, the Dixie Chicks, Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.

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