- A father and his 11-year-old son rooting for the Panthers were threatened with ejection for wearing the team’s jersey in Tampa Bay
- Video shows an exchange concerning a long-standing policy barring apparel from opposing teams in certain areas of the arena during the playoffs
- Read more hockey news here
Part of me thinks certain sports teams based in Florida were quietly relieved when fans disappeared from the stands last year when you consider how often they somehow managed to find themselves in enemy territory despite playing on their own turf.
Close to two-thirds of Florida’s population is comprised of transplants who arrive in the state with their former allegiances in tow. It’s also a notoriously cheap place to fly to and home to a number of historically mediocre sports teams who sell tickets at a fraction of the price you’d typically shell out to watch in cities that are home to contenders. As a result, it’s not rare for the likes of the Marlins and the Dolphins to find themselves playing de facto away games surrounded by fans clad in their opponent’s colors.
In 2015, the Tampa Bay Lightning decided to institute a new measure to cut down on these invasions by instituting a new policy in certain parts of the arena where spectators are banned from rocking any apparel showing support for another team during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The three sections represent around 2% of the total number of seats in Amalie Arena and all reserved for season ticket holders who mostly voiced their support for the policy.
On Thursday, the rule became a topic of contention when arena officials approached a man and his 11-year-old son watching from one of those sections while clad in Florida Panthers jerseys. The guy—who says he talked to a ticket rep before the game to confirm it wouldn’t be an issue—pulled out his phone to record the exchange, which featured one Tampa Bay rep threatening to get the police involved if they didn’t comply.
I could’ve done without the father’s Karenesque question about Tampa Bay’s policy concerning shirts emblazoned with a swastika or a picture of Hitler, but assuming he got the O.K. as he claims, I don’t see how you could side with the Lightning here.
Thankfully, things (sort of) worked out in the end, as a Reddit user who was at the game said the kid was allowed to keep his jersey on after his dad agreed to cede his.
I’ve reached out to Tampa Bay for comment and will update this post if the team responds.
The Tampa Bay Lightning will no longer enforce a policy that restricts fans from wearing gear supporting other NHL clubs in their premium seating areas, the team tells ESPN. This decision comes after a viral video featuring Panthers fans confronted by arena staff. More to come.
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) May 28, 2021
It would appear reason has prevailed.