Post-save chants of “Tuuuu” and cheers when the Bruins scored each one of their six goals in a Game 1 win over the Lightning confirmed that Boston fans were indeed let into Tampa’s Amalie Arena When talking about the ridiculous number of transplants that have moved from New England to Florida, this isn’t anything close to shocking.
But is there any truth to the idea that B’s fans are not permitted to wear anything Black and Gold when visiting the Lightning’s home arena? Well, it’s a yes and no that’s both complicated and overblown.
Brought back to light by a screenshot shared by NESN’s Jack Edwards on Saturday, Amalie Arena does indeed have a playoff policy that prohibits visiting fans from wearing apparel in certain sections of their arena.
This, I thought, was a joke.— Jack Edwards (@RealJackEdwards) April 28, 2018
But it's real. @BrendanMower sent it to me.
Tampa: you have become a GREAT hockey town.
Embrace the passion of invading fans.
It makes it all the richer.
This public service message from the cradle of liberty and free speech: Boston, Massachusetts. pic.twitter.com/tiVKcFwWxD
This has become a story every single time an away team, especially one with a large following (the Red Wings, Rangers, Canadiens, Blackhawks, and now the Bruins), has visited the Lightning in the postseason. But it’s not as cut-and-dry as the Lightning simply banning people from the arena should they show up with a David Pastrnak jersey.
First of all, this rule is only enforced in a couple of sections of the arena — most notably their ‘club’ sections (think the green and gold seat portion of TD Garden). Meaning that there’s about another 90 percent of the arena where you’re free to wear your Bruins gear without so much as a lick of resistance from an arena representative.
And according to Amalie Arena’s policy page, an invader into that 10 percent of the 20,500-seat arena is given four options when trying to check into these home-only sections: They’re allowed to check their unwelcoming gear at guest services to be picked up later and given an unbranded blue or black shirt to don for the night, they can go back to their hotel, change, and return to the arena thanks to a re-entry pass, they can get moved to a comparable seat with no attire restriction (and free of charge), or they can simply get a refund and leave the arena.
Great. Thanks for the options.
But this seems like an awful lot of work for a shirt or hat you don’t like.
“Those are three season-ticket-only private areas, and those are the spots that our season-ticket holders have asked us not to let visiting team apparel into,” Lightning executive vice president of communications Bill Wickett, who compared the rule to the dress code of a private golf club, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette of this policy back in 2016. “If our members were not comfortable with these policies, we would not have these policies in place.”
Not only is this policy nothing new, but it isn’t even the first thing that the Lightning have done their part to curb visiting fans from taking over their arena, as they put zip code restrictions on Blackhawks fans that tried to purchase tickets to games at Amalie Arena in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final.
It’s an oddly insecure move by a fanbase and arena that had no problem selling their arena out this past season.
But the good news is that it’s one with plenty of workarounds for fans determined to bring Garden noise to Tampa.