TAMPA — As soon as upon a time, the Lightning had been determined for followers.
The glow of the 2004 Stanley Cup had worn off, the Oren Koules possession regime had gone sideways, and the Lightning had been struggling on the ice and within the bleachers. It was not unusual to see Rangers, Blackhawks and Maple Leafs followers present up en masse for video games at Amalie Area.
So when the Lightning made a shocking run to the Stanley Cup remaining in 2015, the crew took the unusual step of monitoring zip codes to dam out-of-state followers from buying seats by way of Ticketmaster in the course of the postseason. Not solely did this guarantee native followers would get the primary crack at tickets, it additionally, theoretically, created a larger home-ice benefit in the course of the playoffs.
The coverage, which was mocked in different markets, was quickly eradicated as Lightning season ticket gross sales started to develop, and it grew to become a forgotten relic of a bygone period.
Apart from one tiny element that blew up on social media Friday.
Together with the ticket restrictions, the Lightning had instituted a coverage that forbade followers from carrying the jerseys of different groups of their premium seats and membership lounges. It labored out to lower than 10 p.c of capability when Amalie Area was crammed, however the Lightning had been critical sufficient about it to publish notices when followers bought seats in these areas.
Was it a smart coverage? Not likely.
Sporting venues ought to be the one place the place we rejoice our variations peacefully and joyfully. If we are able to’t be civil to one another whereas cheering at a hockey recreation, how can we presumably co-exist wherever else?
Now the Lightning say they did this solely on the request of their season ticket holders within the membership lounges, however that also doesn’t make it proper. Or very sensible. And it got here again to chunk them in the course of the Panthers sequence when an encounter with a fan was videotaped.
A Florida fan and his 11-year-old son had been confronted by a pair of crew/enviornment representatives who defined they might both want to modify their attire (the crew would supply them with T-shirts) or they might be given a refund and requested to go away their seats. When the person argued his case, the crew worker threatened to have Tampa police take away them from the sector.
Overkill? Oh, yeah.
Did it come to move? No.
When you hearken to the videotape carefully, the Florida fan begins off by claiming ignorance however then later says he was informed by a crew worker that they may put on their jerseys of their seats. The video has a little bit of a gotcha really feel to it, however that doesn’t make the episode any much less incorrect.
And, hours after the video confirmed up on YouTube and different web sites, the Lightning informed the Tampa Bay Occasions in a press release that they might not implement the coverage.
“After cautious consideration the Lightning have elected to loosen up its visiting crew attire coverage within the premium golf equipment for playoff video games at Amalie Area. The coverage was initially instituted in 2015 on the request of our valued ticket holders in these areas, however we understand we have now grown as a corporation and as a hockey market since that point and it’s not mandatory.”
This was a kind of concepts that may have sounded intelligent in a workers assembly, however wasn’t absolutely vetted. And it simply acquired compounded when making an attempt to implement it past a easy request.
It might have been after the actual fact, however the Lightning no less than acknowledged the error.
That is one jersey (coverage) that deserved to be retired.
John Romano will be reached at email@example.com. Comply with @romano_tbtimes.
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