10/29 sharks 4, TAMPA BAY 2
When the Lightning were in the Stanley Cup Finals, signs adorned the St. Pete Times Forum saying things like "Stanley needs a tan". From the second I stepped off the plane in Tampa, I was bombarded with light and warmth from some bright burning ball in the sky, unlike anything I had seen yet on this trip. This trend continued until game time yesterday, as the game was a rare 5:00 pm start time. The atmosphere surrounding the Forum was pretty good, as there was an outdoor party going on. The Forum itself is a nice building, extremely large, both inside and out, but nice nonetheless. Out front, there is some sort of lightning bolt thing sticking out of the ground. Hardly an artistic masterpiece, but a cool landmark, making all aware of where they are.
Once inside, the building is pretty easy to navigate, as there are handy signs at both entrances, directing patrons on how to get to their seats. Due to the size of the building, each level (lower, club, and upper) has its own concourse. Those sitting in both the 100's and 200's (the club) have the ability to get to their seats straight from the entrance, as the club level has its own entrance on the ground floor, complete with private escalator, elevator, and transport beam (I made up one of those). For those in the 300's however, once inside, the hunt for one of two relatively well-hidden escalators to the concourse-in-the-sky is on. While walking around this relatively wide lower concourse (still not the size of the GEC), complete with giant pillars in the middle of the walkway, there are the basic concessions, and a large smattering of souvenir stands on the outside of the walkway (away from the seating area). The upper level concourse is pretty similar, although there are much fewer concessions, but the same choices as the fancy people that sit downstairs.
Passing under the spray painted black "St. Pete Times Forum" on the baby blue wall and through the black curtains, the size of the Forum impresses yet again. From the outside, this building looks like an airplane hangar, and once inside, it begs the question, "Where are the blimps?" The upper level has 19 rows (I think, I couldn't make it to the top, my expedition team ran out of supplies at Row M (13). The rafters hang not too high above the the highest seats of the building, with the ceiling sitting 20/30 feet above the rafters. The rafters are relatively bare, however there is a crown jewel hanging from one end of the Forum rafters. There is the Southeast Division Champions banner from 2002/03, and from 2003/04, along with an Eastern Conference Champions banner from the same year, but a large black banner displaying the most beautiful trophy in all of sports, the Stanley Cup, proudly hangs from the end of the line of banners. There are a few banners on the other end that display the Arena Bowl Championships of the Tampa Bay Storm of the Arena Football League, but nobody cares about that, (at least until January/February, when the AFL begins its 21st season). This is number four of the big four, the NHL . (I follow the AFL, I am a proud Sabercats fan, so, arena fans, please forgive, it was a joke)
The game itself was pretty good, at least for the Sharks fans in attendance; the largest Sharks contingent I've seen at a road game this season. I saw probably 30 Sharks jerseys, a very welcome number from the single digits found in some of the other buildings. I had the pleasure of meeting a couple of the small groups of people who read my blog (thank you to all for reading, feel free to stop by, see post conveniently titled "Come for a Visit"). May and Leanne (I'm really sorry if I got that wrong, please correct me tomorrow in Sunrise), two season ticket holders from the Bay (Pacifica, home of Rob Schneider, if I remember correctly) come for some hockey in the Sunshine State in both Tampa and Sunrise (read Ft. Lauderdale and Miami).
Simple highlights of the game: each team had two goals on the power play, Joe got his first goal of the season, Ryan Clowe got his first NHL goal, and Evgeni Nabokov had 18 saves for his third win of the season.
Sharks wrap up their 5 game trip and the first month of the season tomorrow with a Halloween match-up in Sunrise at the "Your Name Here, But You Have To Keep It Here For A Few Years Because We've Had Four Names In 8 years" Arena at 7:30 EST. To any and all teal fans that will be in attendance, or any possible Panther fans reading this, please come visit me, I'm sitting in section 409 row 5 seat 4 wearing my teal Bernier jersey.
I went to Busch Gardens today, look for an update tomorrow, assuming there's Internet access at the La Quinta.
Go Sharks ( go to Sunrise, then go home :D )
Just a few banners, but the one on the far left is the one that matters most.
From Hockeytown to Hockeybay.
Couldn't get a better shot, there was some sort of bright ball in the sky, and it hurt my eyes to look at it.