Florida State Fairgrounds (Picture courtesy of examiner.com)
3. Florida State Fairgrounds
While attending college during the early 90’s in the Clearwater Florida area, I was able to attend a Chicago Blackhawks game during the Tampa Bay Lightning’s first season at the sports Mecca known as the Florida State Fairgrounds. Thankfully, I wasn’t there on opening night when the Lightning beat the Blackhawks 7-3, but I was in attendance later that season when the Blackhawks defeated the Lightning 5-1.
My easiest comparison to the Fairgrounds Stadium that hosted the Lightning in their first season has to be my workplace for 3 years in high school at Southwest Ice Arena. I was in disbelief how small Expo Hall was that day, with all the seating on one side of the building and the player benches on a side of the rink with no one sitting behind them. It was pretty loud but after only having attending NHL games at the Chicago Stadium, it was unbelievable that an NHL game was being played in such a small facility. If you were looking for intimate this was your rink, but for an NHL experience it was an ok place as temporary home which it was in 1992-1993.
St. Pete Times Forum (picture courtesy of tampapix.com)
2. St. Pete Times Forum (Tampa Times Forum)
The current home of the Tampa Bay Lightning is a made for hockey arena that looks like almost every other Stadium now in the NHL. They have an organ and even if you have a ticket in the nosebleeds at the top of the Stadium (which I have sat at with my entire family) there isn’t a bad seat in the entire arena. It’s a fun night of watching hockey with your family, but there is one reason this ranks 2nd well one major reason.
I’ve brought my family twice to Tampa to watch the Blackhawks play and they loved it which is a strange feeling since every other sporting event is almost like taking kids to the dentist. The real reason is both games that we made the pilgrimage to Tampa, Steven Stamkos scored a hat trick. The first one wasn’t that big of a deal because the Hawks easily won the contest, but the last hat trick ended with a Lightning win in overtime.