The Gull Reef Club

6/1/2015

Lightning Club – No Blackhawks Allowed

Filed under: — Jaime @ 9:52 pm

The Chicago Blackhawks have secured their spot in the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs against the Tampa Bay Lightning. It’s been known to hockey fans for awhile now that the ownership of the Lightning instituted a dress code and ticket policy in Amalie Arena (home ice for the Bolts). The ticket policy:

Amalie Arena is located in Tampa, FL. Sales to this event will be restricted to residents of Florida. Residency will be based on credit card billing address. Orders by residents outside the selected area will be canceled without notice and refunds given.

The dress code:

Please note that for all 2015 NHL Playoff Games at Amalie Arena only Tampa Bay Lightning team apparel (or neutral) will be permitted in these club and adjoining seating areas. Fans wearing visiting team apparel will be asked to remove them while in these areas. (Both policies courtesy of Ticketmaster.com

Private clubs are allowed to institute whatever policies they chose, no matter how moronic/draconian/narrow-sighted/straight-up-stupid they may be. My question is – IS Amalie Arena a private club? Are they legally allowed to institute such measures?

Part of what makes a private club ‘private’ is that they fund themselves, either through dues or membership fees, etc. Amalie Arena exists because a mix of public and private funding. In fact, the government of Hillsborough County recently approved $12.5m in tax dollars, primarily coming from tourism taxes, to renovate Amalie Arena. So The People, especially and including tourists to Tampa, are now at least half-sponsors of this place. In exchange for the Arena accepting tax funding, shouldn’t they also be required to adhere to the types of admission/ticket policies that would be required if this were, say, a bandshell in a public park? I am curious as to the legal authority a club like the Tampa Bay Lightning has to try to prevent Blackhawks fans from wearing their red, white, and black in a quasi-public place like the Amalie Arena. I am also interested in how the ticket policies are not a violation of interstate commerce laws.

So who’s down for some class-action action? This seems ripe.

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