Tampa Bay Lightning loosen policy restricting fans in premium seating from wearing opponents' gear

The Tampa Bay Lightning will no longer enforce a policy that restricts fans from wearing gear supporting other NHL teams in their premium seating arenas, the team told ESPN on Friday.

The policy, which began in 2015, had come under renewed scrutiny after a Florida Panthers fan recorded a viral video that showed two Amalie Arena employees confronting him and his 11-year-old son. They spelled out the options under the policy, where the fans could "check in" their visiting team gear for non-logo shirts, could continue to wear the jersey in a relocated seat away from the club areas or could be issued a refund for the tickets.

One of the employees said "if we come back down here, we're getting [Tampa Police Department] because this is our building policy."

The Lightning said that the policy is clearly stated when one purchases a ticket in their premium seating areas and that the team communicates the ticket policy to every fan who purchases tickets there, through email and by calling the ticket holders. In the video, the Panthers fan says a team representative had called him before the game to discuss the policy.

Starting in 2015, the Lightning instituted this ticket policy that prohibited any other team's gear in club seat areas. The team told ESPN that at full capacity, the policy impacted roughly 6% of the seats in the arena. With limited capacity due to COVID-19 protocols, the policy impacts around 10% of seats.

The Lightning face the Carolina Hurricanes in the second round of the playoffs, with the series starting in Raleigh on Sunday.