Over the years I’ve been fortunate to be able to see the Lightning play on the road several times. Atlanta. New York City. Boston. It’s a little odd that it’s taken this long to travel to see the Bolts take on their in state rivals down in Sunrise. That was finally remedied for Saturday’s matinee victory. Several of us hit the road early in the morning and traversed across Alligator Alley for what ended up being an excellent day of hockey in the Sunshine State.
A lot of other folks made the trip from Tampa. There were plenty of blue and white jerseys spread out in the BB&T center. Lightning fans crowded around the glass for warm up skate. Taking pictures, cheering, pounding the glass. We were a definite presence. We were able to get seats in the lower bowl for a great price. Close to the aisle, close to the bathrooms, and close to the beer stand. What more could a fan want?
The BB&T center is a nice building for sure. The concourses are wide. Bathrooms are so plentiful and large enough that I didn’t have to wait in line once throughout the whole game. They definitely have the Forum beat there. The large concession areas were outfitted almost like food courts. Several counters that could service a number of lines at once. It kept the other walk ways clear, but I didn’t see any beverage carts just selling bottled soda. The beer stand’s sign advertised bottled soda & water, but none were available. Having to wait in the long concession line for Diet Coke and missing part of the second period was a bit annoying. If they do that so people will buy more, mission accomplished. I left with a soda and a pretzel.
During the stoppages in play, I looked around and realized how spoiled we are with our home arena. Our video board has ruined me for all others. Especially ones that appear to be from 1985. I did like that they showed a snapshot of how the Panthers’ minor league affiliates were doing. It would be nice to check in with the Crunch at Lightning games.
They did have like four mascots which was entirely confusing. Stanley C. Panther, a shorter Stanley, a big inflatable head Stanley, and a neon purple gorilla. It was more confusing than anything. The Gatling gun t shirt cannon was pretty solid, though. We won’t talk about all of the dance breaks for the Lady Panthers. Yes. Let’s not.
What impressed me the most was an area set up on the concourse called the “Den of Honor”. Quite a few display cases were set up, holding jerseys and gear from memorable players over the franchise’s history. Roberto Luongo, Ed Jovanovski, and both Bures to name a few. A lot more of the past has been brought into the Forum over the last few years, but I had a great time taking a look at all of the memorabilia and I was a fan of the visiting team. It would be super cool if we had something like this on permanent display in our team’s home.
A great trip, in spite of the $14 beers. The Lightning won, got to see Alex Killorn’s first career NHL goal, and we got to make the trip home with a spring in our step.