Hockey fans came together to celebrate a major milestone for the Tampa Bay Lightning: the team’s 25th anniversary.
- Lightning celebrates 25th anniversary
- Expo Hall was original home of the team
- Replica scoreboard, commemorative banner
It was almost like a trip back in time at the Expo Hall at the Florida State Fairgrounds. It was the original home of the Lightning during the 1992-93 season.
On Sunday, the hall was decorated to look just how it did when the Bolts first played there 25 years ago. In addition, several players from the original team came back.
Some fans, like Terry Tozien, even remember going to that first game.
“We got tickets for the first game and when you see it live that first time, there’s nothing like it. And here I am, 25 years later,” Tozien said.
The Expo Hall was officially commemorated with a banner on Sunday as the first home of the Lightning. Fans had a chance to see how the arena used to be set up – including a replica scoreboard from the first game.
“It seemed bigger at the time, like it was a bigger arena,” Tolzien said. “Packed full of people. You walk in here now, it’s incredible they even got a hockey rink in here.”
Some fans remember the idea of hockey in Tampa being a stretch to many 25 years ago. Since that time, the team routinely has sell out crowds and, of course, won a Stanley Cup in 2004.
“It’s amazing how the franchise has grown,” said Tom Albrecht, a long time fan. “How the people got behind the team. How this whole area has accepted hockey.”
Fans had a chance to listen to former players. They were also able to get photos and autographs.
The Bolts also celebrated at Saturday night’s game at Amalie Arena where several original players were honored.