The Tampa Bay Lightning are playing another round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which means it’s time for another round of visiting teams discovering their unique dress code for high-end tickets buyers.
The Bolts' ticket policy is two-fold. They restrict their ticket sales to certain Floridian zip codes, but this is a practice that’s been adopted by several other thin-skinned teams in the NHL that are apparently allergic to raucous, chaotic, entertaining atmospheres at their home games. (Looking at you, Nashville and Washington.)
But the ticket policy that’s raised the most eyebrows is this one:
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.
If a Chicago Blackhawks fan refuses to doff their fan gear at the suites, they’ll be moved to another seat outside the premium area. And, uh, there really aren’t many of those during the Stanley Cup Final.
“We’re not going to apologize for the policy,” said Bill Wickett, the Lightning’s executive vice president for communications, 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 we’ve been somewhat successful at it.”
Chicago bloviator Dan Bernstein predictably lamented the policy:
What about underpants? Lucky socks? Will scans and pat-downs be required to root out any Indian-headed item otherwise squirreled away?
Attempts to create an artificially controlled “hometown environment” sure seem like a needless expenditure of energy and concern for a franchise that won a Cup of its own as recently as 2004. If that wasn’t enough to grow and sustain a fan base sufficiently to this point, it’s probably not worth the trouble.
Kavitha Davidson of Bloomberg goes one step further and contends it’s a violation of the fans’ Constitutional rights:
It's hard not to agree that these restrictions, and the team's justifications for them, are terribly misguided. The limits on opposing jerseys seems to be at best bad sportsmanship and at worst a First Amendment violation.
Then there's the unsavory idea of what amounts to "separate but equal" premium seating, promising richer Bolts fans a Blackhawks-free safe-zone in the luxury suites and clubs.
Because, you know, they aren’t already promised shorter lines at better food kiosks and shrimp cocktail in their special room with televisions …
For me, the ticket policy is fine because it’s a small sample size: The Lightning are restricting visiting team gear in their premium seating, which means well over 14,000 seats for the plebeians who can wear red body suits under Jonathan Toews jerseys while carrying a deep dish pizza box with GO HAWKS written on it.
In other words, it’s like complaining that the club house has a different dress code than the course at a PGA event. The majority of the fans can wear what they wish and represent the team they'd like.
That said, what say you:
PASS OR FAIL: The Tampa Bay Lightning “dress code” for visiting fans.
MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY