When it comes to sports over the past few seasons, Tampa has quickly transformed into a hockey-first city. In response to the rising popularity, the Tampa Bay Lightning continues to utilize its successful Student Rush program.
Student Rush provides an affordable alternative for students with valid ID at the high school and college level to attend Lightning home games, which exceed $100 at certain points in the season and playoffs.
Justin Savoie, Sports Marketing Coordinator for the Lightning, said it has been one of the Bolts’ most profitable programs, in terms of revenue.
“We wanted to get more engagement amongst the students and what better way to get that than offer a discounted ticket,” Savoie said. “It is our most successful single-game ticket that we offer. Every year, that’s one of our largest revenue generator with regards to single-ticket offers.”
The Lightning are currently deep in a playoff run, tied 3-3 on the series with the Pittsburg Penguins after a 5-2 home loss in Game 6 and the continued success on the ice has created a much higher demand for student tickets.
In the 2016 NHL playoffs, the lightning have sold out every game in Amalie Arena, reaching the capacity of 350 Student Rush tickets at nearly all home games.
This has caused students in search of guaranteed tickets to go to greater lengths to secure their seats — some getting in line as early as 7 a.m. for an 8 p.m. game.
But some tickets have still been available to fans closer to puck drop.
Courtney Ferrante, a junior Mass Communications major at USF, used Student Rush for the first time in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, giving her a cheap seat in an electric atmosphere.
“I love the idea of student rush,” Ferrante said. “I think that it is a great way to reach out into the community and create a new wave of fans for the Lightning. I would have never been able to afford to go to a playoff game if they didn’t offer it.”
Ferrante was able to a $25 ticket after a short 20-minute wait, but as the playoffs grow deeper, Savoie said the wait times will get longer.
“We we’re definitely getting much bigger crowds,” Savoie said, recalling last year’s Stanley Cup Finals. “We’re already seeing the same thing this year with the Eastern Conference Finals. The students are definitely coming out a lot more now than they do during the average game.”