It’s Lightning fever as the Bolts take on the Boston Bruins Wednesday in game three of the playoff series. But as the team tries to secure victory in their quest for the Stanley Cup, Tampa is already enjoying some big winnings.
Nearly 5,000 attended the team's last watch party and just as many are expected on Wednesday night at Water Works Park in downtown Tampa.
And while the event is free, those people are spending lots of money on food and drink.
If not there, it's other places throughout the Bay.
Most of the fans also like to support the team by wearing Lightning apparel.
Karen Chastain is the owner of Heads and Tails, a family owned sports apparel store on Kennedy Boulevard.
“Oh god we've had so many customers in here it's remarkable,” said Chastain.
Chastain said she’s had to re-order countless times. The hottest item is kids clothes. And that demand triples if the team keeps advancing. That’s why Jarret Dring stopped by.
He is a sales rep for Outerstuff Limited. The company makes the championship lines and they need orders right now in anticipation of a win
“If we get to that point we are going to have goods ready to go and shipped the very next day,” said Dring.
“It's an added bonus that we all get to supply the local market with championship product.”
But for each play off game, it’s a success regardless of what happens on the scoreboard.
“Sports teams drive business,” said Adam Perhosky, Marketing Director for American Social, a restaurant and bar on Harbor Island.
Perhosky said they might not be hosting the official watch party, but for many restaurants like American Social, it feels like it.
“We will see a 15% to 20% increase in sales. And that means more products that need to be ordered to accommodate the guests coming in to watch the game,” said Perhosky.
He can’t even guess the extra amount of food and drink, that means outside vendors are raking in profits too, and some places are even hiring private security because of the mass crowds.
“It's a big town for hockey. Tampa loves their hockey,” said Chastain.
And non-profits benefit too. The Lightning gives some of the proceeds from the vendors to Bay Area charities.