TAMPA, Fla. — After waiting 16 years for another Stanley Cup win, waiting in line for a few hours for championship merchandise was not an issue for Tampa Bay Lightning fans.
“I’m very superstitious,” said Melissa McAdams. “I did not come down last night, so I wanted to be one of the first in line to grab my shirt.”
McAdams stood in line outside Tampa Bay Sports off Thunder Alley with dozens more fans Tuesday morning following a late-night celebrating the team's big win. Some people got in line two hours before the store opened, waiting in a line that stretched alongside Amalie Arena.
“Trust me, my husband is going to kill me. My bank account is going to kill me, but my house is filled with Lightning stuff, and you can never have too much,” said McAdams.
Vinik Sports Group Director of Retail Matthew Zalkowitz said they have 250 individual SKUs coming in with the Stanley Cup Champs logo on them. Zalkowitz says they pre-printed locker room gear, what players wore Monday night, in anticipation of a Lightning win. He says they will have stock coming in all week, so fans don’t need to feel they have to rush in right away.
From pucks to flags to hats and shirts, fans found no shortage of options to support the new champions.
“It’s been a strange year right? I think one of the ways that people are connecting with the team is through merchandise, and they’re showing their colors, and it’s something that we’ve seen round by round, and it’s been increasing,” said Zalkowitz. “I think people are hungry for merchandise just to show their colors, and it's super exciting for us.”
In the shadow of a pandemic, fans realized how big the win is for the Tampa Bay area. While they wished they could’ve supported the team in person, they’re just happy they could bring home the Cup.
“It’s the Stanley Cup Final,” said Matthew Toth. “We’re the champs now, so I need something to say that we’re the champs.”
For fans buying up Bolts blue for the Lightning Champions Celebration at Raymond James Wednesday night, officials say they had 15,000 free tickets for fans, which are now all sold out. That event begins at 7:30 p.m.
The Stanley Cup Champions Boat parade will be at 5 p.m. Wednesday along the Riverwalk in Tampa, from Marjorie Park on Davis Islands to Ricks on the River. Fans are encouraged to safely gather along the Riverwalk while following social distancing guidelines including wearing a mask.