The Stanley Cup Banner Is Gone. The ice is gone. The glass and the penalty boxes are gone. We went to a Tampa Bay Storm game tonight, Jeff Vinik’s Arena Football League team. Like the Lightning, they were upgraded to a shiny new logo this year. Unlike the Lightning, the building isn’t packed at their games. With that said, the fans that do come are filled with energy. Everyone says it, that Tampa has the best fans. Everything from concerts to sports events, Tampa’s always on the favorites list. The Newsboys even said that Tampa was their favorite place to play on a documentary. Fans come down from Canada and talk about how they didn’t respect the Lightning’s fans before, because we’re not in the traditional hockey market. However our spirit and energy changes their minds. There is a charge that surges through the Forum at home games. The handful of fans that show up to the Storm games seem to get into the games more than at the Lightning games, if that’s even possible!! Every time they run down the field, everyone stands up. They go crazy for every touch down, field goal, and penalty. The D.J. started a wave, and everyone participated. They play songs like YMCA and it’s not just the children who stand up, dance, and enjoy it. The adults (including myself) stand up and get jiggy with it too. You don’t see that at Lightning games. Depending on where you sit, Lightning fans can either be so intense into the game that they don’t chant, or they loosen up, have fun, and yell. I’ve sat in sections where I could yell and be obnoxious with everyone around me. On the other hand, I’ve been in sections where everyone just sits quietly and only cheers when we score. “Let’s Go Lightning” will be echoing from across the arena, and I felt out of place when I tried to join in. Try starting a wave at a Lightning game. You’d be laughed right out of the building! Now let me make this clear, I’m not ‘calling fans out’ or anything like that as some of my previous articles have caused controversy. People don’t like it when you call out their fandom. I’m not saying that Bolt Nation doesn’t down right get into the games, because believe me, we do. Bolt Nation is strong we are loud, we can blow the roof off of the arena. But it’s serious chanting and cheering. At the Storm games I guess that it’s a light-hearted, less stressed feel. I think nothing of doing the Cha-Cha Slide (which I did at the Chili’s radio show anyway. When I’m with my children, I’m a dork and I don’t care who’s watching) at a Storm game. When they play the dance music at a Lightning game, it’s like just time to sit and relax, time for the kids to dance. I say we start a revolution at the Lightning games next year. Let’s dance! Let’s have fun! Heck, let’s start a wave!!!!! I guess it’s just the low number of fans who come to the Lightning games that come but really get into it that warmed over my heart. The team goes out there and plays their hearts off. Though they lost tonight, they kept the game close the whole time and fought hard. I know that this is a hockey blog, but I want to give a shout out to our AFL team who share the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Tampa Bay teams (for the most part) support each other. Here in this picture, you can see The Tampa Bay Rays in Lightning shirts during the play-offs. In the other picture you can see The Lightning supporting The Rays during their play-offs. Tampa Bay Storm head coach Dave Ewart has been seen supporting The Lightning at Lightning games, and tonight Lightning head coach Guy Boucher was at the Storm game. If the coaches and player can support each other, surely we fans can support our other teams. I know, I know. Nothing holds a candle to a good hockey game. However Storm games are fun, and they need your support too! And I’ll end it with this: Is it October yet?