TAMPA BAY, Fla- — The Tampa Bay Lightning, announced January 9 that they will open the 2020-21 season without fans due to concerns caused by the recent rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across Hillsborough County and west central Florida.
The team’s first game of the season is scheduled for Wednesday, January 13 versus the Chicago Blackhawks at AMALIE Arena – the organization had previously been planning to admit a limited number of fans (approximately 3,800) to its games.The facility will remain closed to fans through at least February 5 and the organization will reassess the numbers with local health and government officials in the coming weeks before making any subsequent decisions.
The decision not to bring guests into AMALIE Arena will also affect upcoming Toronto Raptors games.“We have worked tirelessly, putting every safety measure possible in place at AMALIE Arena. However, as we review current data and COVID-19 modeling for the next few weeks in the Tampa Bay area, we do not believe it is prudent to admit fans inside the arena at this time,” said Steve Griggs, Chief Executive Officer for Vinik Sports Group and the Tampa Bay Lightning. “Please note the decision to close AMALIE Arena was made internally, without direction from local health or government officials.“Our health care agency partners and the local governments have helped ensure that AMALIE Arena is as safe and healthy as possible, but because of the increasing numbers and the rising positivity rates we are not comfortable bringing large numbers of fans indoors to watch hockey or basketball right now. We are hopeful to reopen the arena soon after we see declining rates and better overall numbers.”
The Lightning are scheduled to play 56 games during the 2020-21 regular season, 28 of those at home in AMALIE Arena.
The team’s last regular season home game is scheduled for May 4, 2021 against the Florida Panthers.
Those that have purchased ticket plans for the 2020-21 Lightning season will be contacted directly by the ticket sales and service team at AMALIE Arena with options on ticket refunds for games missed or the opportunity to their leave money on account with the Lightning to use for future games, while also earning five percent credit on that money.