By Don Ford
I couldn’t believe it. There I was watching an NHL hockey game in Tampa, Florida.
You will be surprised when I suggest that you go to an NHL hockey game while in Florida. I was. In fact I was in for two surprises. The first was that Floridians actually go to hockey games.
When I think about Florida I think sunshine, beaches, dozens of restaurants, swimming, shopping, shuffleboard, motor homes, and RV parks. The last thing I think about is hockey. Back when the earth was still cooling many of us started to play hockey. Outdoors. We changed into our skates in the snow. So it is a bit difficult for me to get my mind around hockey in Florida on a warm evening.
My son-in-law invited me to go with him to Tampa to see the Tampa Lightning vs. Buffalo Bison game. Since I printed the tickets I knew that they cost $34. (This is a far cry from when my dad used to take us to Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. We sat in greys for 50 cents and then splurged and moved lower, into the greens, at 90 cents.)
We drove from Sarasota up to Tampa and parked a few blocks from the Tampa Bay Times Forum. It seemed to rise in the evening in a massive shape. It is huge, all 670,000 square feet of it, and seats 19,758 people. The temperature was around 70 degrees. As I said before, it seemed strange to go to a hockey game on a warm evening.
The throngs of people massed together as we funneled through the entrance, gave our tickets, and found our seats. We were quite high up and it seemed like we were looking straight down. Opposite us was a huge TV screen and we could watch the game on the ice or on the screen. It was very exciting to watch a real game, no fighting, and just a little shoving around the goal net after a score.
Buffalo won 3-1.
My second surprise came when my stepson was visiting. He told us he was going to the hockey game in Tampa that Thursday night. He said the equivalent ticket in Toronto would be around $1,000. Apparently all the seats are sold and the only way to get a ticket is to pay the scalpers a thousand bucks.
We decided it would be cheaper to fly to Tampa and watch a hockey game than to pay the exorbitant prices in Toronto.
Those of you who want to go to an NHL game need to get a round trip plane ticket, go to the game, stay in a hotel, and save yourself a pile of cash. Tickets are from $22 to $259 in Tampa, Florida.
Snowbirds could go next winter while in Florida and watch the Tampa Bay Lightning play the team of their choice.
When you go to the game, park near the Forum, which is located at 401 Channelside Drive in the Channelside area of Tampa, Florida. You can buy your tickets online at www.tickets.com.
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