You have to like what is going on in Tampa Bay right now if your a Lightning fan. First off on the ice and now off the ice. After toiling with some past ownership groups that just “didn’t get it”, current owner Jeff Vinik and CEO Tod Leiweke have an game plan for the re branding of the Tampa Bay Lightning towards the Tampa Bay Area and its fan base.
Lets start first with the most important core of any team, their season ticket holders. The Lightning will introduce a new Logo and Jersey for the upcoming 2011-2012 season. On top of this EVERY full season ticket holder will receive a new jersey with its distinct marks on it to show that the fan is a season ticket holder. Included in this jersey will be a micro chip that will be inserted on a spot on the sleeve which will allow for identification and allow for a 25% discount on concessions, and 35% discount on Merchandise throughout the St. Pete Times Forum. Down the line the Lightning plan to have the microchip usable at other retail outlets and stores in the Tampa Bay area for discounts. This is the first concept of its kind to my knowledge amongst any Professional North American team and could be a trend setter for most if not all teams in the future.
Amongst all this news came new developments of a planned $35 Million renovation to the St. Pete Times Forum. The Forum hosts about 125-150 events a year and Lightning Owner Jeff Vinik is putting up all the money to upgrade almost the entire arena. The list includes the following; The replacement of EVERY SINGLE seat in the St. Pete Times Forum. The renovation of every suite in the building (which will probably lead to new suites being built), and the widening and modifying of concourse area in the arena including new concessions stands with better variety. Also with the renovations come some new items. The addition of new 11000 sq foot outdoor party area and bar, and the addition of new interactive displays showcasing Tampa and the area. On top of this, is the new renovation of the front entrance of the arena. Its not over yet Tampa Fans, you will also get more of a fan experience with the addition of a new hockey pipe organ, and a “lightning strike” on ice after every goal.
Oh and one more thing. There will be no increase in season ticket prices to offset the cost of these renovations.
The Lightning are possessing all the right tools off the ice to make them one of the model franchises in the NHL. It is great to see all of this happening to a franchise that almost moved a few years back and has had a poor history of past ownership groups trying to just use the bottom line to get season ticket holders. All of these perks and upgrades will make Tampa a hot spot for hockey for years to come.
About the Author
Written by George Kouvalis
A huge fan of sports who loves to travel for major events. I've seen my fair share of major games and events including three Olympics, Wimbledon, The Masters etc.... Always up for a road trip or a drink to talk over sports or pro wrestling, in any city I am in or online. Favorite Teams: Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto FC, Toronto Blue Jays, Chicago Bulls, San Francisco 49ers, Toronto Argonauts, Manchester United, and of course the teams I blog for, the Texas Rangers and Buffalo Sabres. Follow me on twitter at the handle georgekouvalis