What does one do when they are on vacation and away from their favorite hockey team? You visit rivals in their stadiums and make comparisons! This is our first article in a series about NHL stadiums/arenas that we will write about as we visit them.
Amalie Arena is electric—from the outside in. No, really. It is ELECTRIC! There are actual lightning bolts coming down from the ceiling. And the fan energy was pretty impressive too. The pump-up begins before the fans even walk through the doors. There is a bar which serves just about anything you could want to drink and a couple of food trucks with plentiful options in the outdoor pavillion. Get a drink and then roam around the outside promenade (Note: you CAN also bring your drink from outside into the arena with you.) The night we attended a Kings-Bolts game there was a championship winning high school band performing and then the Lightning Girls put on a show to piped in music. When it was time to open the doors there was a big countdown which was rather exciting!
We always make a point to talk to the folks who work at the arena to find out how to get the best pictures and the dos and don’ts while in the arena. We met a great guy this trip named Virgus Durette who talked to us about the arena and how to launch our blog. He’s from the DMV and living in the Sunshine State now. If you are interested in going down for warmups you are welcomed to do so. We decided to take in the Kings warmups in section 103 and it was great!
Once inside the arena we discovered that the place is HUGE! It is 670,000 square feet of fun, with three decks and seven levels. It seats 19,204 for NHL games, 20,500 for their Arena Football League team The Tampa Bay Storm, and 21,500 for concerts. Dinner options include burgers, hotdogs, barbeque, a range of seafood entrees, and so much more. There are plenty of places for pre-game dining within walking distance. From the Bud Light Deck you can take great pictures of Tampa and enjoy the warm weather while watching the game.
Parking is pretty reasonable by DC standards. We parked on the roof and took the elevator down to promenade for $12. There were lots surrounding the arena that offered parking for $25. Getting out was a breeze, although there is a lot of construction around the arena and we found ourselves missing turns to get back to the I 4.
The fans are pretty friendly here. We were wearing LA Kings shirts for the game and some Kings fans we talked to were a little worried about wearing the opponent’s colors. No need to worry. No one even gave us a second look. We sat in a section that was full of Kings supporters and I have to say they were very polite. We groaned when the Bolts scored and cheered when the Kings scored but there were no “Go Kings Go” chants and nobody picked a fight, at least in our section. A good sign for Caps fans who may come down when they play.
FYI – Their third jersey is called “the Bolts” because it displays their nickname!
The Lightning have one of the cutest mascots in the league. Thunderbug can be seen around the arena and out in the Promenade before and during the game. He gladly poses for pictures with fans from any team.
Where to Stay
There are any numbers of hotels within walking distance of the arena. Many teams stay at the Embassy Suites and walk through the promenade and into the arena. The airport is a short distance away and the fare to a local hotel isn’t too bad. If you are staying in Orlando, as we were, the drive is a little over an hour, as long as traffic cooperates.