CBS- When an executive defends a business decision by insisting that he’s not sorry they made it, that’s a pretty good indication that he knows it’s wrong.
Such is the case with the manifest insecurities of the Tampa Bay Lightning as they prepare to welcome the Blackhawks for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday night. “Welcome” is probably not the ideal word in this case, however, after one notices the stern language on the team’s Ticketmaster site articulating their limitations on purchases.
“Please note,” it reads, “Amalie Arena is located in Tampa, FL. 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.”
“We’re not going to apologize for the policy,” Lightning vice president Bill Wickett told the New York Times. “We want to create as much of a hometown environment for the Lightning players and our season-ticket holders as we can.”
And to that end, they didn’t stop with tickets. No, the Lightning are policing clothing, too.
“Chase Club and Lexus Lounge ticket holders: Please note that for all 2015 NHL Playoff Games at Amalie Arena, only Tampa Bay Lightning apparel (or neutral) will be permitted in these club and adjoining seating areas. Fans wearing visiting team apparel will be asked to remove them while in these areas.”
This have got to be the most untold story of the playoffs, right? Sure, there has been a local article or two on it since it started happening at the beginning of the playoffs, but the Lightning have not been subject to nearly enough criticism on a national level. Limiting who can purchase tickets to a certain region? Policing what opposing fans can wear to a hockey game? How is that even legal? How does that not violate our basic human rights? I genuinely don't understand how a professional league that has taken every step to be as progressive as they can be is allowing a Stanley Cup finalist to play bouncer towards paying customers. Whatever happened to the constitution? Whatever happened to our first amendment rights? I have to wear blue? When the team I just paid handsomely to watch is wearing red? Get the fuck out out of here. It's not enough that Tampa Bay is just about the worst place to host the NHL's premier event? Now we all have to be Lightning fans as well? Isn't that a little depressing to Tampa Bay as an organization? Like, if you are requiring everyone to be Tampa fan there could potentially be not one single Tampa fan in the building. Not saying that's true, but it's possible. What's next? Does everyone have to cheer when the Lightning score too? The sound and electricity in the building is really the most important factor of home ice advantage. Giving out free shirts does nothing to swing crowd momentum. Chicago fans are still going to cheer for Chicago, even if they have to fight Nazi-like persecution to do so.
I almost feel like it got too much exposure to be a legitimate talking point. It's like the whole issue is hiding in broad day light. Look at the teams the Lightning have had to go through. Detroit, Montreal, New York, and now Chicago? Those are some of the some of the most well traveled fan bases in the entire league. It's almost like the Lightning were so steadfast in their policy that it just blew right over without contention. Don't address the problem or even admit that it is a problem in the first place, and hopefully it goes away. As someone that finds himself at opposing stadiums rather often I absolutely despise this rule, but I do respect the lack of fucks given. Like you really have to have not a single fuck to your name to willingly subject yourself to the adverse reaction you are going to get from 29 different fan bases. The Tampa Lightning are basically the Bill Cosby of professional sports. So completely guilty of marginalizing demographics of people, yet completely immune to actual, tangible discipline. As we have seen with the NFL so often, these professional leagues basically police themselves. It's about time the NHL steps in and takes authority over there jurisdiction. If not for the public perception of their product then for the rights of fans everywhere.