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Lightning ticket policy leaves Blackhawk fans on outside, angry

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With money in his hand, does a sports fan have a right to buy a ticket?

And what if it is in the home of the enemy?

That seems to be at the core of the conversation in the hours before the Stanley Cup gets under way. The relatively new ticket policy of the Tampa Bay Lightning, which restricts the purchase of their tickets, is being discussed again.

A lot of Chicago Blackhawk fans, it seem, are upset they will be unable to buy tickets at Tampa’s Amalie Arena for the upcoming games for the Stanley Cup.

The policy was instituted for this year’s playoffs and also affected fans from Detroit and Montreal.

The Lightning say they are merely trying to protect the atmosphere of their fans and present a home-ice advantage by presenting an audience different than the games where many of the fans in attendance were those from the other team. The team restricts ticket sales through addresses on Ticketmaster.

Fans wearing opposing jerseys in the Chase Club or Lexus Lounge will be asked to relocate.

The thing is, it is only teams with fewer general admission seats (not season-tickets) where that is a policy. In Montreal, there were only limited seats for Lightning fans. The same was true in New York. Go to an away college football game, and an opposing fan is going to be part of the minority. That’s just how it is.

However, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel referred to the Lightning as “afraid” to sell those tickets.

Frankly, I’m not sure what fear has to do with it, unless it’s fear of not selling a ticket at all. It seems as if the team would prefer to sell one in market than out of it, although hotel owners and cab drivers might feel differently. The league certainly has no policy that a certain section of the stands has to be reserved for visitors.

In 2014, the Denver Broncos limited sales of tickets to the AFC Championship game against New England to fans in the Rocky Mountain states. Seattle’s Seahawks sold tickets of their game against the 49ers only to fans in the region. The Nashville Predators did the same thing against Chicago in these playoffs.

Even with the policy, one Red Wings fan burned a Lightning flag at one of the team’s games.

The game begins at 8 p.m., for those in the building or watching on television.


Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit

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