Tennessee State Fairground Sports Arena
The Tennessee State Fairground Sports Arena is the nickname given to the Nick Gulas Sports Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. It is also known by the nickname the TNA Asylum due to the venue hosting Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA, now known as Impact Wrestling) events for two years in the early 2000s.
The building was constructed in 1922, by a band of carpetbaggers from South Dakota. The building was originally a flea market. It was operated throughout the 1960s and 1970s by promoter Nick Gulas as a professional wrestling venue.
After taping their initial shows in the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, Alabama, then moving their next few to the Nashville Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, TNA moved their weekly pay per view events to the Tennessee State Fairgrounds Sports Arena in July 2002. It was about that time that the Sports Arena was nicknamed the TNA Asylum in honor of the wrestling that occurred in the arena. The name the Asylum was first used during the ninth weekly pay-per-view by Ron Killings. The Asylum also served as the home of TNA Xplosion, TNA's weekly syndicated television show, from its inception until October 2004.
After debuting TNA Impact! out of Soundstage 21 at Universal Studios Florida, TNA decided that they would eventually shut down their weekly pay per view operations in favor of switching to a monthly pay-per-view format. Shortly after, they held their final weekly pay-per-view event (on September 8, 2004) before permanently departing from the Asylum in favor of running their shows exclusively out of Universal Soundstage 21.
Showtime All-Star Wrestling used the arena a couple times during the year of 2009, filming some of their television episodes at the Sports Arena.
On November 12, 2010, TNA Wrestling returned to the Asylum for a one last live event, headlined by Jeff Hardy defending the TNA World Heavyweight Championship against D'Angelo Dinero, before the proposed demolition of the building. However, on January 18, 2011, the Nashville City Council voted to keep the arena open through 2012. The vote on a referendum issue on the ballot for the August, 2011 Metro Nashville-Davidson County election made it much harder legally for the municipality either to dispose of or severely alter the operation of the Fairgrounds, and most of the facilities there remain in at least limited operation as of 2015.
On January 29, 2011, there was a "Tribute to the Fairgrounds" pro wrestling event, highlighting many of the Memphis-area wrestling legends who helped make the arena famous, with the main event being Jerry "The King" Lawler vs "Superstar" Bill Dundee in front of a sold-out crowd of 1,700.
Beginning in 2012, Crossfire Entertainment used the Sports Arena for their live events. They hosted "Tribute to the Fairgrounds" events before the proposed demolition, but later used it as a primary location for their shows. On August 4, 2012, Crossfire Wrestling announced TV production would return to the Nashville Fairgrounds Sports Arena, thanks to Paramount Pictures, as they were to be hosting HD/3D TV Tapings there. To add on to this, Crossfire was to be the first professional wrestling organization to be shot in 3D. On February 17, 2013, Crossfire Wrestling announced that they unfortunately had to cease operations, leaving the venue empty for the time being.
On September 6, 2013, TCW Wrestling's "Tennessee Takeover" was held at the Sports Arena, which was the first event held in the arena since January 2013. On June 22, 2014, the first-ever live televised pay-per-view for Ring of Honor, Best in the World 2014, was held at the venue.
A documentary went into production in 2015 entitled "Fair Fight: Nashville's Pro Wrestling Legacy" centers around the history of wrestling in the Sports Arena. It's scheduled to be released sometime in 2016.
- "Mayor's statement puts an end to State Fair". The City Paper. 2009-10-06. Retrieved 2009-10-07.
- Goodman, Larry (2010-11-13). "TNA house show report 11-12 Nashville". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved 2010-11-13.
- Thomas, Jeremy (2011-01-23). "Former TNA Asylum to Be Kept Open". 411Mania. Retrieved 2011-01-24.