According to a report from the Washington Journal, the Tampa Bay Lightning have enacted a new in-arena policy for the duration of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs that denies anyone from wearing “visiting team-branded apparel” (AKA Bruins jerseys) at Lightning home games.
Specifically, the rule applies to two areas of Tampa’s Amalie Arena, the Lexus Lounge, which includes seats right up against the glass, and the Chase Club luxury suites.
“Fans wearing visiting team-branded apparel will be asked to remove such apparel while in these areas,” according to the Lightning’s website.
The team’s executive vice president of communications Bill Wickett says the policy is in place to satisfy season ticket holders and ensure that television cameras do not capture optics that embarrass the home team Lightning. “We want to keep Amalie Arena blue for the playoffs,” Wickett said.
Fair enough… but to outright bar Bruins fans from sitting in these sections just because of how it’ll look on TV… that seems a little insecure. Could you imagine TD Garden banning Lightning jerseys? I mean, it’s not as if the Lightning have many fans in Boston anyways, but there are Bruins fans literally all across the United States and Canada.
Bruins play by play announcer for NESN Jack Edwards broke the story to many Bruins fans and, as only he can do, echoed the fans’ sentiment on the policy. Edwards basically calls out the Lightning, telling them to be better and stop stifling free speech.
Here’s the thing… good luck policing this ridiculous policy. If a Bruins fan wants to sit in those seats, they’re going to. If a Bruins fan wants to rep their team’s jersey, they’re going to. So what happens in such a situation?
Wickett said that if fans with tickets to one of the luxury seats arrived wearing black and gold gear during the playoffs, the team would offer them a neutral-colored T-shirt to wear instead.
Again… good luck with that.
“They’ll laugh at that. You can’t keep yellow and black out,” said Thom Popoli Jr., a Massachusetts native and huge Bruins fan. “If they want to, they’ll smuggle something in, at least a towel or something. We’re one of the original [six] teams — you can’t stop us.”