If you’re hoping to catch a Tampa Bay Lightning playoff game this post-season and you’re from out of town, you’re going to have a tough time locking down some seats.
Single-game tickets for the Lightning’s first-round series, against a yet-to-be-determined opponent, are being restricted to residents of the Sunshine State. The Tampa Tribune’s Erik Erlendsson reported Friday that any tickets that are purchased with a credit card that does not have a Florida address associated with it will be automatically cancelled and the card issued a refund. There will be no notice of the termination of the order, but it will be done.
The idea behind the automatic cancellation is to stop visiting fans from taking over the Amalie Arena during the first-round of the post-season, and, unless there’s major backlash, there’s no reason to believe the ban on visiting fans – or at least visiting fans with a credit card address outside of Florida – buying single-game tickets won’t run for the duration of Tampa Bay’s run.
“We don’t feel the need to apologize for doing our best to create a home atmosphere for our season ticket members and our team,’’ team spokesman Bill Wickett told Erlendsson.
The Lightning aren’t the first team to use the tactic. During the 2013-14 off-season, the Nashville Predators changed their ticket policy to try to thwart Chicago Blackhawks fans from filling the building by making it so fans buying a ticket to any of the Predators’ games against the Blackhawks would have to buy an additional ticket to a game not against Chicago. Their reasoning – which they told ESPN was to encourage a better home atmosphere – was the same one the Lightning are employing in their drive to give Tampa Bay the truest home-ice advantage possible.
If the playoffs were to begin today, the Lightning would take on the Detroit Red Wings in the first round, a team that Erlendsson reported as one that had plenty of visiting fans filling the building on game nights during the season. The Boston Bruins are close on the heels of the Red Wings, however. Boston has a major following as well, so the issue would be the same were the Lightning to play Boston in the opening round.
The Lightning are currently in second place in the Atlantic Division, but trail the Montreal Canadiens by a single point for first in the division. Tampa Bay has had the ninth best attendance in the NHL this season, averaging 18,803 patrons per game, according to ESPN.