NHL tells Lightning, no more 'watch parties'

- The National Hockey League ordered the Tampa Bay Lightning to cancel plans for its Thunder Alley watch party ahead of game seven of the Eastern Conference Final.

Instead, the Channelside marketing team will host a gathering of people wearing blue at the Channelside Bay Plaza, near Amalie Arena.

The change comes after a string of team-sponsored watch parties held at Thunder Alley and Channelside had great turnout. Fans came out for second-round away games three and four against the Islanders, and Conference Final away games one, two and five against the Penguins.

But on the day of game seven of the Eastern Conference Final - the game to determine which team will go to the Stanley Cup Final - Thunder Alley was quiet. Lightning logos, Lighting girls, and other team sponsored activities were nowhere to be found.

That's because the NHL said it was, "brought to their attention," that the Lightning had been holding more than one watch party per round, which is all the league allows. The NHL said it reminds teams of the policy at the beginning of every playoff season.

"We will be able to accommodate large crowds. We'll have food and beverage specials, food trucks, local vendors," Darrah Winkler, head of the Channelside marketing team said of the game seven event at Channelside.

"It seems to me that they are putting ratings and revenue over fan enjoyment," Yankle added.

He was referring to the 10-year, reportedly $2 billion contract between the NHL and broadcast network NBC Sports.

Bay Area enthusiasm for the Lightning will likely still be in full effect, even if the location and branding of the event have changed. 

"It's more of a fan rally and a block party," Wikler explained. "With an opportunity to view the game."

Things get underway at 7:30 p.m., with the game starting at 8 p.m. Parking will be at the Port Garage, where charges will apply.

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