Fans flock to Lightning playoff game and find few places to go before and after

Thousands came for the first playoff game in four years for the Lightning, but the supply of places to go before and after the game isn't there.
 
The Tampa Bay Times Forum is surrounded by vacant lots, which is great for parking but shows the weak economy in the Channel District.
 
It also shows opportunity. 
 
Alyssa Liggett drove in from Clearwater just for the game.
 
"Today was my day off, so worked out perfectly. Pretty excited about it," she said.
 
Her choices are limited to a few places in Channelside. 
 
Bankruptcy has hurt the mall, limiting the choices of where to go before and after the game. 
 
"Everything at Channelside is kind of closed down,” Jason Steingrubui said. “Hat Trick, which closes at 8, and Ferg’s, that doesn’t open until August. So other than that there is really not much around."
 
He settled on a temporary venue set up by Ferg’s. The bar and restaurant saw the void and plans to open full time in August across the street from the Forum. 
 
"We are doing this event just to bring people in, let them know we are coming,” Ferg’s manager Rich Mize said. “Let them know that sometime in August we will be open and Ferg’s is on its way Downtown." 
 
Steingrubui does like one thing about the lack of choices and therefore the lack of people.
 
"You don’t have to wait in lines to get to anything, so that is always fun,” he said.
 
The next game will be Friday and fans will have the same challenges to find a place to go before and after the game.
 
 
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