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Brooklyn Bowl turns 1, focused on 'showing love' to artists and fans in Nashville

The Tennessean (Nashville) logo The Tennessean (Nashville) 6/25/2022 Marcus K. Dowling, Nashville Tennessean

Nashville emerged post-COVID as a top-10 stop for musical acts looking to navigate the "new normal" and continue to earn their keep as touring professionals.

Key to that moment was the city's now year-old "new kid" on a legendary metaphorical block, Germantown's two-level, mixed-use, 40,000 square foot Brooklyn Bowl venue.

The idea for the space originated in New York, and it has sister sites in Philadelphia and Las Vegas. It was awarded "Best New Concert Venue" in February at the 33rd annual Pollstar Awards. This followed the live music trade publication highlighting that two other storied Music City venues, – the 130-year-old Ryman Auditorium and quarter-century-old Bridgestone Arena, as the music industry's top ticket-sale grossing theater and arena, respectively, in 2021.

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Intriguingly, one look at Pollstar's inaugural Concert Market Ranking review shows that Nashville's growth is similar only to Las Vegas'. So if you are wondering why there is a need for a 1,200-person standing capacity venue to occupy space alongside the similarly sized Cannery Ballroom, Marathon Music Works and the 2,000-capacity Ryman, it starts here.

Comparable to Vegas, Nashville's socioeconomic boom has created a situation where a city that may not be anywhere near the nation's top-10 media markets is still experiencing dynamic growth in the entertainment sector.

Brooklyn Bowl's Nashville outpost was scheduled to open in March 2020 but was halted by COVID-19. However, since opening fully on June 25, 2021, with two nights of Old Crow Medicine Show headlining, the venue has hosted over 200 shows on its stage.

The Brooklyn Bowl in Nashville offers a mix of bowling and live music. © Stephanie Amador / The Tennessean The Brooklyn Bowl in Nashville offers a mix of bowling and live music.

Plus, diverse offerings, including private events, 18 lanes of bowling, a menu curated by New York City's Blue Ribbon catering, and a premium view of Nashville Sounds baseball games from the venue's back patio, have been available (brothers Chris and Tim Ward, sons of the Sounds co-owner Frank Ward,  own the building that houses Brooklyn Bowl).

Brooklyn Bowl talent buyer Colin Keegan notes that heading into the venue's second year, a staff that includes Sara Barnett and Carl Gatti, the former assistant general manager and  the director of entertainment, respectively, at Lower Broadway's ACME Feed & Seed, has "grown closer together" and are "excited" about what's to come.

A look inside the Brooklyn Bowl in Nashville. © Stephanie Amador / The Tennessean A look inside the Brooklyn Bowl in Nashville.

Keegan discusses premium sightlines, world-class sound and a dedication to quality experiences for fans and bands alike as key hallmarks of the site's early success as a live concert venue.

"We try to make everyone feel at home and happy when they're in this building," he says.

Keegan also names performers like Charley Crockett and Patrick Droney, who achieved sold-out shows at Brooklyn Bowl, as a benchmark of the place the venue has established for itself in Nashville. 

Brooklyn Bowl's 2009 origins in its namesake New York borough's Williamsburg neighborhood and expansion after five years to Las Vegas are comparable to Nashville's current boom era. 

The Brooklyn Bowl in Nashville's Germantown neighborhood is a two-level, mixed-use, 40,000-square-foot venue. © Stephanie Amador / The Tennessean The Brooklyn Bowl in Nashville's Germantown neighborhood is a two-level, mixed-use, 40,000-square-foot venue.

In 2009, entertainment impresario Peter Shapiro and Charley Ryan's Brooklyn Bowl concept – a combination music club/bowling alley built from an old, 23,000 square-foot iron foundry – arrived. It melded the area's then-nascent hipster scene with slick nightlife elements, LEED-certified, environmentally friendly technology, and a mix of musical acts from indie dance and rock to hip-hop to become one of America's top venues. 

By 2013, Shapiro and company had announced Brooklyn Bowl's Las Vegas expansion. It arrived a year later as a 78,000-square-foot club with two levels and 2,000 person capacity concert venue inside Caesars Palace's the Linq Hotel. Notably, Madison Square Garden Entertainment was announced as a minority investor in the project.

"We want to be a place that grows acts to interact with historically significant venues in Nashville like the Ryman and Exit/In and fit in with the existing concert ecosystem in town," similar to Brooklyn Bowl in 2009, Keegan says.

A look inside the Brooklyn Bowl in Nashville. © Stephanie Amador / The Tennessean A look inside the Brooklyn Bowl in Nashville.

"As Nashville evolves, we're going to perfect our art of delivering a quality, diverse lineup of shows that welcomes everyone."

He says he's excited to see Nashville grow in renown as a national touring market where multifaceted venues with affordable, elevated experiences are gaining popularity.

In short, a city once known for wild honky-tonk nights has added bowling and baseball to its premier, boozy, music-induced party atmospheres.

"We got our feet wet in this city now," Keegan says. "So we will continue showing love to the artists and fans by going above and beyond to ensure everyone feels at home here." 

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Brooklyn Bowl turns 1, focused on 'showing love' to artists and fans in Nashville

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