It was shaping up to be a great night here in Tampa. The Lightning were on the road in Montreal, but I planned on getting together with friends to watch the game at Brickhouse Tavern & Tap. We have been to this bar many times over the last year. We were there during every road game of the 2011 playoffs. The team themselves have even hosted numerous “official” watch parties.
A few of my friends arrived before I did and specifically asked the hostess if we could have the tv by our table changed to the hockey game when it started. There was an NFL game going on between the Texans and the Bengals, but we were told it wasn’t a problem. We were at a booth in the far corner of the restaurant and the tv hanging above us was obscured from the other patrons’ view by a hanging lamp.
Five minutes before puck drop, we call our waitress over and ask for the channel to be changed. It is and we’re all set for a fun night out. Before the broadcast can even begin, the channel is changed back to football. We are told that by a manager that they can’t change one of the televisions because the majority of the people in the bar want to watch football.
Even though we are regular customers that he recognized, even though there are at least 25 other screens in the bar. We’re told they “might” be able to put on the hockey game after football ends, but it will have to be changed back before the next game starts. We ask for our checks, pay, and promptly leave.
In short, we were unable to watch a Tampa team’s away game in a Tampa establishment. I’m calling it what it is: Hockey Discrimination.
If the Buccaneers or Rays were on the road, I guarantee that their games would be all over every sports bar across the Bay area. I understand that hockey isn’t as popular as baseball or football in the United States. What I don’t understand is the unwillingness to be flexible for loyal patrons who have spent a significant amount of money in their establishment. Flexibility that would allow fans to watch a hometown team.
I have had no problems with Brickhouse until tonight. The food is great and the service has been good. Unfortunately, they have lost my business. They have lost my hockey friends’ business. I have also spread the word around the Twitterverse and Facebook.
One person might not be able to do much, but I plan on taking my patronage to bars that are hockey friendly. I suggest you do the same. My money is just as green as an NFL fan’s and so is yours. What bars do you attend to watch Lightning road games? I’ll join you there from now on.