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    SEC Sports Power Weekend: Vanderbilt

    SEC Sports Power Weekend: Nashville, Tennessee, November 19-21

    In the eleventh installment of his 13-part series highlighting the SEC college towns and Atlanta, the site of the SEC Championship Game on December 4, SportsPowerWeekends.com founder/editor Jared Cooper takes a closer look at Nashville, Tennessee, home of the Vanderbilt Commodores. Vanderbilt will host the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday at Vanderbilt Stadium at 6:30 PM CT.

    There are many factors that make Vanderbilt such an attractive school to attend – aside from the world-class academic environment – not the least of which is its location in the heart of Nashville. The capital of Tennessee, Nashville is nicknamed Music City, USA; a name well deserved according to Travel + Leisure, which named the city the best live music venue in the country.

    The magazine didn’t stop there, also calling Nashville America’s third-friendliest city, and ranking it number one nationally as the most affordable trip. Suffice to say, the secret is out. Nashville is the perfect mix of city and college town life in the south, and its residents and Vanderbilt students are the beneficiaries.

    Lucky for you, Nashville is home to a treat of a Sports Power Weekend this weekend, with Vanderbilt hosting in-state rival Tennessee on Saturday, and the NFL’s Tennessee Titans hosting the Washington Redskins at LP Field on Sunday.

    FRIDAY

    •    Monell’s Dining & Catering
    •    Printers Alley

    The best way to experience a city and understand its culture is by talking to its people. This, and some great all-you-can-eat comfort food, is exactly what makes Monell’s Dining & Catering so great. The restaurant is family style in the truest sense – food is served at communal tables so you will be sitting and eating with local Nashville residents who can tell you what they love most about the city as they pass the food down to you. The restaurant is located in the Germantown area of the city in a 1880s Victorian house. It is a true southern experience to say the least. 

    After dinner take a 15-minute stroll down 5th Avenue, past Bicentennial Park and Victory Park to Printers Alley. There you can do your best impression of some of the local country music heroes by testing your vocals at one of the several karaoke bars on the street.

    SATURDAY

    •    Pancake Pantry
    •    Vanderbilt Campus
    •    Grand Ole Opry
    •    Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame
    •    Hog Heaven
    •    Centennial Park
    •    Vanderbilt Stadium
    •    Tennessee Performing Arts Center
    •    Broadway Street

    There is no better way to start off a big day than with a hearty breakfast, and you will get that at more at the Pancake Pantry. They serve 24 different varieties of pancakes and have been open for 50 years just south of Vanderbilt campus. After breakfast walk through the idyllic campus before making your way to the iconic Grand Ole Opry House, the most famous country music venue in the world, which re-opened in late September after heavy flooding in May. The Grand Ole Opry show is currently being held at Ryman Auditorium, and features a 9:30 PM show consisting of The Charlie Daniels Band, among others.

    After getting a good look at one of Nashville’s top tourist attractions, head to the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame to check out some of their informative exhibits. Tennessee Titans owner K.S. “Bud” Adams was a 2006 inductee. After the Hall of Fame builds up your appetite for Vanderbilt football, take care of your other appetite by checking out Hog Heaven, a barbeque joint that has been serving Nashville’s “original white bbq sauce” for almost 25 years.

    In your final stop before heading towards Vanderbilt Stadium for tonight’s big rivalry game check out the Parthenon in Centennial Park, right next to Hog Heaven and just outside of campus. The Parthenon and the 42-foot Athena Statue are full-scale replicas of the original building and statue in Athens, Greece. The Parthenon also serves as Nashville’s art museum; the entire building is really a site to behold.

    Next: the main event. Since 2006, Natchez Trace has been closed on gameday to create the ideal tailgating experience. The area goes by the name Vandyville, and it is the place to be prior to the 6:30 PM local kickoff. Make sure you don’t miss the Star Walk an hour before the game, where two players lead the team and the Spirit of Gold Marching Band carrying a ship anchor as a sign of team unity and strength.

    Inside the stadium, the recently adopted battle cry of the Commodores will be shouted throughout the stadium against Vanderbilt’s primary rival, Tennessee. Get used to hearing students shout “who ya wit?” as other students answer with “V! U!”

    Vanderbilt Stadium hosts 39,773 screaming fans, and it is located on the same site as the original Dudley Field, built in 1922 as the first stadium in the South to be erected exclusively for college football.  Dudley Field was demolished in 1980 and was replaced by Vanderbilt Stadium, which was home to the Tennessee Oilers in 1998 before they moved to Adelphia Coliseum (now LP Field) and became the Tennessee Titans in 1999.

    After the game, catch the aforementioned Grand Ole Opry show at Ryman Auditorium or see comedian Craig Ferguson at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center. Both shows are near some of the best live music venues in the city on Broadway, including Tootsie’s, Legend’s Corner and Second Fiddle.

    SUNDAY

    •    Marché Artisan Foods
    •    Country Music Hall of Fame
    •    Hermitage
    •    LP Field

    There have been several SEC Sports Power Weekends that we’ve highlighted thus far that include NFL games on Sunday, but none have required so little travel to get there. The Tennessee Titans host the Washington Redskins at LP Field on the banks of the Cumberland River at 12 PM CT in what promises to be an entertaining cap to your Sports Power Weekend. Before then, have some breakfast at Marché Artisan Foods and then check out the Country Music Hall of Fame; no trip to Nashville is complete with out it.

    If you have time and a way to get there, a twenty-minute drive to Andrew Jackson’s home, The Hermitage, is worthwhile and educational. What you are really looking forward to though is LP Field, where the most electric player in the NFL, Chris Johnson, calls home. The stadium opened in 1999 and seats nearly 69,000 fans. All of the seats promise to be filled as one of the NFL’s premiere franchises; the Washington Redskins come to town.

    When this weekend is over there will only be one remaining college town stop on our SEC Sports Power Weekends tour, and that is Fayetteville, Arkansas. Following our Arkansas (vs. LSU) Sports Power Weekend, we’ll head to Atlanta, the site of the SEC Championship Game. While there aren’t many stops left, there sure is a lot of fun to be had.

    Jared Cooper worked for the National Football League’s PR department for four years before creating SportsPowerWeekends.com. You can follow him on Twitter (@SportsPowerWknd) or contact him at Jared.Cooper@SPWtravel.com.