(Ed. Note: With all the talk of Tampa Bay's arena policies, here's a guest post from fellow SBN writer Achariya Rezak breaking down the realities.)
There has been a lot of controversy surrounding Amalie Arena's policies. As a Tampa fan (and SB Nation contributor at Pension Plan Puppets -- long story, but I report about Leafs prospects in Orlando), I was asked by Satchel to expose Tampa's secrets. Amalie Arena doesn't allow any away-team jerseys, right? Fans of Chicago can't even buy a ticket if they live in Florida, right?
As much as I'd like to say, YEP, and fill my lovely arena with a sea of blue (just kidding, put down those pitchforks, Hawks fans!), I'm here to do what I didn't do for Detroit (who wrote this hilarious article about it), Montreal (who wrote the BEST article about it), and New York (who were VERY misinformed). I'm here to tell you the TRUTH.
But first, let me quote from Montreal's fabulous article:
The Tampa Bay Lightning are Anti-Freedom
That's right, the Tampa Bay Lightning are treating their arena like certain Floridian suburbs, regulating what people can and can't wear, because their season ticket holders are "uncomfortable" with things that are different. That doesn't sound very American to me, isn't America the land of the free? The home of the brave? I guess not brave enough to sit beside someone who might be cheering for another team.
That's absolutely right, Berkshire. None of your Bleu, Blanc et Rouge butts in our suburban hick town! (Or, not any longer in THIS playoff run! ... Juuuust teasing.)
On to the truth.
Away team fans are unable to wear their jersey at Amalie Arena.
Away team fans are unable to wear their jersey in exactly 1,520 seats at Amalie Arena. The jersey restriction applies to The Chase Club (1,000 seats on the 2nd level) the Lexus Lounge (390 seats on the first level), and the North Party Suite (130 seats on the 2nd level).
That means that there are still 18,480 seats available in which Blackhawks fans can wear whatever they want.
I created an inexpert graphic to show you exactly where the Bolts-only areas are. See all that red? That is where it is OK to wear a Blackhawks jersey. The blue indicates the restriction.
I have no Photoshopping skills, but I think you get the picture. Amalie might be anti-freedom, but they're only anti-freedom if you have a yen to spend the astronomical amount per ticket for the posh areas.
Only people who have a Florida zip-code credit card can buy tickets.
First, tickets for all four potential games are already sold out. So does this matter anyway? Apparently it still matters to some, so I'll address it.
"Sales to this event will be restricted to residents of Florida. Residency will be based on credit card billing address. Orders by residents outside the selected area will be canceled without notice and refunds given." - Ticketmaster policy (under "Event Info"). More Amalie Arena Ticket Terms and Conditions here.
Only people who have a Florida zip-code credit card can buy tickets FROM TICKETMASTER.
Did you know that if you'd called Amalie Arena's customer service (the phone numbers are here at the website) you could have purchased a ticket as an away fan (not that any are left)? Amalie has been extremely accommodating to fans who were willing to go the extra step and call the arena.
There were also no restrictions on purchasing tickets at the arena box office in person (not that there are any left).
Also, ticket re-sellers don't care where you're from as long as you're willing to pay bank. Just sayin'.
Tampa fans actually love that we get to see you.
We've come a long way from the team that was bounced out first-round last year, and stricken from the ECF in 2011. The mere fact that we get to host the Chicago Blackhawks in our building has us puffing up with pride.
Compared to the Original Six, our team's only been in existence for 23 years. Our fanbase is not small (we have the 9th-best arena attendance in the league) but we DEFINITELY don't have the mighty force of years behind the Red Wings, or the Canadiens, or the Rangers, or our latest guest -- the Blackhawks.
As fans from a senior fanbase, we look to you to set the example for how hockey fans behave at home and away. We also look to you for the exemplary behavior that I KNOW Captain Toews would expect from each and every one of you. I've seen the arena videos from Chicago -- Toews has a better "mom look" than even I do!
Over at Raw Charge, the writers even wrote an article welcoming last round's guests to Tampa -- where to go, what to do, and how to avoid the expensive beer.
Let's have an excellent Stanley Cup Final series together. And welcome back, Richie!