February 1, 2013 - Lightning take an early lead, and end it with the score of 8-3. Photos: R. Pitts/ CC Media + Entertainment
Steven Stamkos met with fans during the holidays!
Photots from the Bolts' 4-3 win over Buffalo on October 25th, 2011
By: Dory LeBlanc
Tampa, FL (620 WDAE) - After four months of frustration, the lockout was officially over Saturday night and less than 12 hours later, the Lightning held their annual Fan Fest to kick off their shortened 20th anniversary season.
Despite having a quick turn around both from the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) being agreed upon at almost 11:00 pm EST and the Tampa Bay Times Forum hosting a concert Saturday night, the Lightning and Forum crew worked dilligently to have the building ready for the gates to open at 9:00 am for the fans.
The turn out was impressive even though many fans are angry about the lockout that began on September 16, 2012. According to Lynn Wittenburg, Vice President of Brand Management for the Lightning, the team is even expecting a sold out arena for the opener Saturday against the Washington Capitals.
Wittenburg, as well as Lightning Color Commentator Bobby "The Chief" Taylor, Chief Executive Officer Tod Leiweke, Chief Operating Officer Steve Griggs, Hall of Famer Phil Esposito, and Owner Jeffrey Vinik all made time during the busy morning to stop by the 620 WDAE broadcasting booth.
There was an overwhelming feeling of relief both with the front office as well as the thousands of fans that came out to get autographs from their favorite players - all players were on hand spread throughout the Forum, purchase single-game tickets with the organization picking up the Ticketmaster fees through Monday at midnight, and buy merchandise and equipment at a discounted price.
The Lightning also urged the fans in attendance to stick around and watch the hour-and-a-half long practice - the first organized workout to begin training camp.
Monday through Thursday, the Bolts will hold camp in Estero, FL before heading back to Channelside Drive on Friday.