Stanley Cup Playoffs: Stop whining about the Tampa Bay Lightning dress code policy

(Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

Every year, when the Stanley Cup Playoffs kick off, it’s the same old discussion about the Tampa Bay Lightning’s ‘dress code’ and it’s time to put a stop to this.

When April rolled around, the excitement here in the Bolts Nation ascended to a whole new level. After missing the playoffs last season, the Tampa Bay Lightning was headed back to the big game and was preparing to begin their journey towards raising the Stanley Cup high above their heads for the first time since the 2004 Championship season.

Unfortunately, along with the excitement comes a certain degree of frustration for Lightning fans. Along with the typical “non-hockey town” argument Bolts fans have become accustomed to hearing every single season, fans here in the Bolts Nation are barraged with complaints from opposing team fans about this mythical “dress code” the Bolts oppose on them.

Unless you have been living under a rock and have literally no access to the internet and social media, you’ve heard this one before. The Lightning is “banning” other teams from showing their pride and “preventing them” from wearing what they want to the arena. The best one we’ve heard is the Lightning is “taking their rights” away.

There are many sporting news sites on the internet that seem to recycle this story every year and a vast majority has some sort of misinformation. So, allow us to provide you with the real story. Here is a look at the Lightning’s “dress code policy” straight from the Amalie Arena website.

"“Only Lightning-branded or ‘neutral’ attire and apparel will be permitted in the Club and the Club-designated seating areas during Lightning playoff games (including any pre-game and any post-game activities). Any attire, apparel, articles of clothing, accessories (e.g., hats, lapel pins, hair accessories, jewelry), or promotional collateral (e.g., mini-flags, noisemakers) that are branded with the name, logo, or registered mark(s) of the then-current playoff opponent of the Lightning are expressly prohibited in the Club and in the Club-designated seating areas (together, the “Restricted Apparel”). ”"

So, yes, there are certain places in the Amalie Arena where you are not permitted to wear opposing team apparel. This is the truth. However, what is not truth (and sometimes widely spread) is that this policy applies to the entirety of the arena. Allow us to show you the specific areas of the arena to which this applies.

On the left-hand side of the arena, you will see two sections. One of these sections is green in color and the other is a tan color. Both of these sections are labeled as “Club.” This is the Chase Lounge. The Chase Lounge is predominately used by fans for business-to-business networking and entertaining clients.

Some of the perks associated with these seats are an all-inclusive buffet, concierge service, interactive hospitality areas, and much more. These are some pretty top-tier benefits that come with a top-tier price tag. It is what one could refer to as the “best of the best” seating in the arena.

The other area where the dress code policy applies is the Lexus Lounge seats. For those of you who don’t know, the Lexus Lounge is not an actual seating area. Rather, it is considered to be Rows A and B on the Promenade Level surrounding the ice.

As you can clearly see, the dress code policy applies to a very small portion of the arena. It may not look like it when you look at the seating chart, but we assure you, the math checks out. Here’s a look at how it all breaks down.

There are a total of 1,236 seats in the Chase Club sections. The Lexus Lounge seats account for a total of 387 seats located throughout the arena. This means there are a grand total of 1,623 seats in which you cannot wear opposing team apparel. Now, put this into some perspective.

The Amalie Arena has a total of 19,092 seats available during hockey season. Only 1,623 of those seats restrict opposing team apparel. This accounts of a whopping 8.5 percent of the seats in the Amalie Arena. In the other 17,469 seats in the arena, which equates to the remaining 91.5 percent of the arena, you can wear whatever your heart desires.

Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay Lightning /

Tampa Bay Lightning

If you want to wear a jersey for the New Jersey Devils, Boston Bruins, Washington Capitals, or any other team the Tampa Bay Lightning faces over the course of the postseason, sit in one of the 17,469 seats that allow you to do so. It really is that simple.

Let’s be real here for a moment. Say for example you are a Boston Bruins fan living in Boston. You purchase tickets at the TD Garden which cost around $500 per game. If you dropped all that hard-earned money on a seat to a single game, you would want to be surrounded by like-minded people, would you not?

Furthermore, the simple fact of the matter is it’s the Tampa Bay Lightning’s building. Jeff Vinik and the management staff over at the Amalie Arena have the right to impose whatever kind of dress code restrictions they want in their building.

The simple fact of the matter is these restrictions apply to such a small portion of the arena it is almost a non-issue.

So, please…can we please focus on what is really important here? The Tampa Bay Lightning has had a heck of a season and worked incredibly hard to get to where they are right now. In a little over 24 hours, the Lightning will kick off the Eastern Conference Final against the Washington Capitals.

Between these two teams, there are some of the most talented players in the National Hockey League right now. They are all about to take the ice in the spirit of fierce competition and the desire to represent the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup Final for the chance to win the best trophy in the world of sports.

Next: Lightning Fans React To Advancing To Eastern Conference Final

Let’s all take a deep breath and start focusing on what really matters here. Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals fans alike are about to be enthralled in an exciting series. There is going to be some high-powered, hard-hitting, intense play on the ice. This, right here, is what playoff hockey is all about.