Earlier this week several sources reported that if the NHL does hold an All Star Game in 2018 it would be held in Tampa, Florida. It’s far from definite. After all, the league hasn’t ruled out participating in the upcoming Winter Olympics in South Korea. Despite this uncertainty, it seems likely that the Lightning will host one of the NHL’s signature events. It’s a big testament to the impressive turnaround the team has made both on and off the ice in recent years.
Those of us who attend games on a regular basis may be a bit jaded to the game day experience but Amalie Arena is a fantastic place to see hockey games. Whether it’s the party-like atmosphere on Ford Thunder Alley before the doors open, to the pipe organ, or to the Tesla coils that create real lightning every game is an event.
Don’t believe us? Take someone who has never witnessed hockey live with you and pay attention to their reactions. Several out of town fans have expressed amazement at how well things are run or even said they wished their arena had some of the amenities that Amalie does. Whether it’s the variety of concessions, the friendliness of employees, or the giant video board a strong impression is made in the best of ways.
Tampa as a hockey destination remains a bit of hidden treasure despite successfully hosting two NCAA Frozen Four tournaments since 2012. Deep playoff runs, including the 2015 Stanley Cup Final elevated their status even more. The organization has proven that they have the capabilities to showcase the game in some of its most prestigious events.
Southern NHL expansion continues to be met with criticism to this day. Some traditionalists will never be happy that the game is growing in areas where ice doesn’t naturally occur. The league would do well to shine a light on one of its biggest Sunbelt success stories. If the league does end up allowing players to go to the Olympics in 2018 it won’t be the end of this story. The Lightning will host one of the league’s signature events. It’s not a matter of if. It’s a matter of when.