TAMPA, Fla. — Businesses in the Tampa Bay area are feeling the ripple effect of the Lightning’s second consecutive quest for the Stanley Cup. Fans are not only bringing the thunder for the team, but also a boost to businesses in the area.
At Irish 31 in Hyde Park, fans can always expect a packed house for Lightning games.
“Every table is full. There are people standing. Everyone’s glued to the game, and when the Lightning score, this place just erupts,” said general manager William McKean.
McKean explained how business compares now to the Lightning’s last run for the Stanley Cup in the fall.
“It was stressful the first go-around just because we had the restrictions. We had to make sure everyone was seated in order to be served, and it was a challenge because a lot of people, they just want to come and they want to cheer on the Lightning, and if our tables are full, they’re still like, ‘Oh come on. Let me just stand, grab a beer,’ and we had to follow by the guidelines,” said McKean. “But now, it’s as if things are back to normal, and during these games, it’s standing room only. It’s a lot of fun.”
Staff welcome fans especially after a tough year from the pandemic, where restrictions and shutdowns took a toll on businesses.
“It’s been great. The Lightning are just a phenomenal team. Tampa Bay just rallies behind the Lightning, and every time there’s a home game, we’ve always got the game on sound and our fans come out,” said McKean.
“I always say that sports, music, and food bring people together,” said Gio Cruz, owner of Ducky’s Sports Lounge in Tampa.
Cruz explains the pandemic has been a roller coaster, but the success of teams like the Lightning means the community comes out and supports them, too.
“We had to lay off a lot of people during the pandemic, and it just ensures everybody has a job, so it’s a great thing,” said Cruz. “It truly is from what we were last year, it’s a godsend.”