By Thomas Marshall
Fans of the Tampa Bay Lightning were allowed back into Amalie Arena on Saturday, March 13 for the first time in a year since before the pandemic began. It has been a year since Amalie Arena rang out with the sound of the goal horn when Victor Hedman scored the last goal on the power play in a 4-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens.
For season ticket members, this excitement is even more palpable. Amalie Arena welcomed back 3,800 fans back into the arena, and a good amount of those fans are the Lightning’s loyal season ticket members.
This year’s season ticket member plans will include an option of 14 games or seven games, and packages are available based on season ticket member seniority. According to the Lightnings client services, one of the great benefits of being a season ticket member this year is receiving priority on the ticket packages available for the 2020-21 season.
While a total capacity at Amalie Arena will have to wait for a later date, Lightning fans are nevertheless excited and eager to watch their hometown team retake the ice.
In a recent press release from the Lightning, the organization wrote, “The highest priority in the decision to welcome guests back to the facility has always been placed on the health and safety of fans and staff.”
As the defending Stanley Cup champions after beating the Dallas Stars on September 28, 2020, the Lightning raised their championship banner when they allowed the public back in the stands on Saturday, March 13.
The Lightning has worked diligently to communicate with their season ticket members, especially after deciding not to allow fans into Amalie just four days before the scheduled home opener in January earlier this year. “We’ve received constant communication throughout the process. I do think the organization has handled it pretty well overall”, said Lightning season ticket member Lindsay Sestilio.
According to Bay News 9, Vinik Sports Group, the Lightning parent company, decided to prohibit fans from entering Amalie due to a rise in COVID-19 cases across Hillsborough County.
Justyn Carlson, senior account executive of Membership Sales & Service, sent an email in December of 2020 to season ticket members outlining the Lightning’s strategy for navigating the season, which included a detailed description of their 2020-21 season ticket member packages and loyalty credit options for any unused season ticket member funds.
An email sent to season ticket holders read, “At approximately 23% capacity in the seating bowl, and according to recommended CDC protocol, we will be offering a limited amount of physically distanced seated pods (6+ feet separation). Most locations will be in pods of two or four seats.”
The organization has also extended its loyalty credit options and offered a bonus on unused season ticket member funds that roll over to 2021-22.
For those fans who are not ready to return to games this season, the Lightning is offering fans the opportunity to pause their season ticket membership and still keep their seat location, ticket plan, and tenure secured for the 2021-22 season, in addition to the loyalty bonus mentioned earlier.