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Tampa Bay Tries to Shut Out Blackhawks Fans With Ticket Restrictions

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Jun 2, 2015 2:20PM

Hawks fans like to travel to show support for their team. Opponents don't like seeing their home arenas become a sea of red sweaters singing "Chelsea Dagger." But for teams to issue actual policies to prevent Chicagoans from spending money in their town and stadiums? That is bush league.

Ahead of the Stanley Cup Finals, the Tampa Bay Lightning has become the latest team to try and prevent Blackhawks fans from attending road games. With game one being hosted at Amalie Arena on Wednesday night, the team issued the following directive via TicketMaster in regard to secondary sales:

"Sales to this event will be restricted to residents of Florida. Residency will be based on credit card billing address. Orders by residents outside the selected area will be canceled without notice and refunds given.”

The team further issues instructions preventing Blackhawks apparel from being worn in the Chase Club and Lexus Lounge sections of the stadium. The Lightning similarly tried to shut out New York Rangers fans during the Eastern Conference Finals.

In addition to being silly and petty given the relatively small population of Hawks fans who would show up anyway—even if it is the Stanley Cup, it's not as cheap and easy as it is for Bulls fans to get from the North Shore up to Milwaukee, for example—it also had the potential to keep Lightning fans away, too. Given all the "snowbirds" who call Florida home for the winter, surely some have adopted Tampa Bay as their team even while maintaining their address up north as a main billing address. And are the Lightning really going to have stadium security wrestle the Blackhawks sweater off a fan who now calls the sunshine state home?

If you're so insecure that your own fans will pack the place and "create a home atmosphere," as the team has said, then it's more important that you focus on building a fan base who want to attend games more than anything instead of worrying about keeping the opposition from crashing the gate.

It wasn't all that long ago that the Blackhawks couldn't give away tickets to the United Center, not that former owner Bill Wirtz would ever have resorted to such tactics. Now, this whole controversy is an issue in part because the Hawks are so popular and tickets to games so valuable; it's cheaper for a Blackhawks fan to get a flight, hotel, and tickets to a road game than it is to try and pry tickets out of a local fan's hands.

Remember, Hawks fans, there's always StubHub.