From humble beginnings at the Florida State Fairgrounds to now selling out Amalie Arena on a nightly basis, the Tampa Bay Lightning have come a long way in 25 years.
- Team played first games at Florida State Fairgrounds expo hall
- Expo Hall only sat 10,000
- 1992 season started with 7-2 win over Chicago Blackhawks
Even though the Bolts are now celebrating 25 years, they are still a relatively young team when compared to other franchises in the NHL.
What they’ve been able to do in that short amount of time, and what they’re doing right now, means a lot to the fans that have been with the team since the very beginning.
Mike Corcoran has many memories from Lightning games over the last few decades. However, it’s a fan event from the very first season that sticks out all these years later.
“One of the things that I remember most about that is waiting outside the gates, and the anticipation, and there was a buzz even then," Corcoran remembers. "And a lot of the people probably didn’t know hockey the way they do now."
That’s back when the team played at the small Expo Hall at the Florida State Fairgrounds.
“I remember my first game, and funny enough it was against the Washington Capitals,” Corcoran said, the day after the Lightning took Game 3 in its playoff series against Washington. “It was a small building, and only sat 10,000 people.”
The Lightning actually returned to the Fairgrounds at the beginning of this season to let their original fans remember where it all started.
“We got tickets to the first game,” said fan Terry Tozien. “And I liked hockey. But when you see it live that first time, there’s nothing like it. And here I am, 25 years later.”
That 1992 season started with a bang, as the Bolts destroyed Chicago 7-3 in their first home game ever. It was the start of a journey that 25 years later turned a city with no ice into a hockey town.
“That particular season, I don’t think anyone could have dreamed what it turned into today, watch parties filling up streets all over town," Corcoran said. "It’s been an interesting experience watching the growth from then until now."