Amalie Arena at sunset
|Former names||Ice Palace (1996-Aug 2002)
St. Pete Times Forum (Aug 2002-Jan 2012)
Tampa Bay Times Forum (Jan 2012-Sep 2014)
|Address||401 Channelside Drive|
|Operator||Tampa Bay Sports And Entertainment LLC|
|Capacity||Ice hockey: 19,092
Arena Football: 18,500
|Field size||60,000 square feet (5,600 m2)|
|Broke ground||April 14, 1994|
|Opened||October 20, 1996|
|Construction cost||US$139 million
($212 million in 2016 dollars)
|Structural engineer||Walter P Moore|
|General contractor||Hunt/Morse Diesel|
|Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL) (1996-present)
Tampa Bay Storm (AFL) (1997-present)
Tampa Breeze (LFL) (2009-2012)
Amalie Arena is an arena in Tampa, Florida, that has been used for ice hockey, basketball, and arena football games, as well as concerts. It is home to the Tampa Bay Lightning of the National Hockey League and the Tampa Bay Storm of the Arena Football League.
The building was originally known as the Ice Palace. In 2002, the building's naming rights were sold to the St. Petersburg Times, which became the Tampa Bay Times in 2012; accordingly, the arena was known as the St. Pete Times Forum from 2002 to 2012 and Tampa Bay Times Forum (2012-2014). In September 2014, the arena was renamed Amalie Arena when the naming rights were transferred to Amalie Oil Company.
The venue, located in Downtown Tampa's Channelside District was a secondary location chosen after the failure of Tampa Coliseum Inc. to secure funding to construct an arena on Tampa Sports Authority land near Tampa Stadium. The city of Tampa paid $86 million and the Tampa Bay Lightning paid $53 million for the venue's construction and infrastructure. It opened in 1996 as the Ice Palace. Its first event was a performance by the Royal Hanneford Circus. The first hockey game was the Lightning hosting the New York Rangers, which the Lightning won 5-2.
The arena was built as a new home for the Lightning, necessary because of the lack of a major league-sized arena in the Tampa Bay Area. The two existing arenas in the region, Bayfront Arena in St. Petersburg and the Expo Hall at the Florida State Fairgrounds were too small for an NHL team. Prior to the opening of the Ice Palace, the Lightning spent one season at the Expo Hall, and then moved to the Florida Suncoast Dome, which was nicknamed the "Thunderdome", in St. Petersburg, Florida in 1993. The Thunderdome, now Tropicana Field, is currently home to Major League Baseball's Tampa Bay Rays.
The arena is owned by the Hillsborough County and leased to the Tampa Sports Authority. The authority leases the arena back to the Lightning, who operate it. The current lease agreement ties the arena to the Lightning ownership.
Naming rights to the arena were sold to the then St. Petersburg Times, a daily newspaper which circulates throughout the Tampa Bay Area. Other entertainment events occasionally held in the Forum include concerts, NBA exhibition games, USF basketball and NCAA Tournament games, tennis, professional wrestling, boxing, figure skating, and rodeos (as well as stand-alone bull riding events; the Forum has hosted an event by the PBR's premier tour, the Bud Light Cup (renamed Built Ford Tough Series in 2003), annually since 1998.)
The Tampa Bay Times Forum was ranked, in 2010, as the 4th busiest arena in the United States.
A $35 million renovation was scheduled to be completed before the 2012 Republican National Convention. The renovation includes a rebuilt grand plaza entrance, elimination of 2 lower-level suites in each corner (8 of current 28 suites) leaving views from the concourse area to the playing area, renovation of each suite, elimination of sections 323 and 324 on the terrace level (574 seats) for a bar and stage area that will feature a new digital theatre organ, more concessions areas on the terrace level, an 11,000-sq ft outdoor deck and party area overlooking outside plaza and facing the downtown skyline, new climate controls that improve both the ice surface and spectator comfort, new lighting, all new padded seats, resurfaced and redecorated concourse, combining Icons and Medallions restaurants into one venue, and updated restrooms.
Also in 2012, the Tampa Bay Times Forum installed a new video display board. The board is billed as the largest of its kind in North America. Its two larger faces measure 28 × 50 feet (8.5 × 15.2 m), while its two smaller faces are 28 × 20 feet (8.5 × 6.1 m). In comparison, the arena's old display board measured 16 × 28 feet (4.9 × 8.5 m) on all sides.
The building played host to the 1999 NHL All-Star Game, and games of the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament in 2003, 2008 and 2011.
The arena hosted four of the seven games during the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals, during which the Lightning defeated the Calgary Flames four games to three to win their first Stanley Cup. The Lightning also hosted home games in the 2015 Stanley Cup Finals against the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Arena hosted the 2008 NCAA Women's Division I Final Four Basketball Tournament on April 6-8. Tennessee beat Stanford, 64-48. In 2009, the Arena hosted the Southeastern Conference Men's Basketball Tournament; they will again host the SEC Men's Basketball tournament in 2022. They also hosted the 2015 NCAA Women's Division I Final Four, plus 2019.
The arena was slated to host an NBA preseason game in 2010 between the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat, the league's two Florida teams. However, months before the game, the arena's basketball floor was treated with an oil-based cleaning solution that resulted in a slippery film forming on it. According to Magic players, the floor was so slippery that they had to walk through their shootaround. When it became apparent that there was no way to make the court playable, the game was canceled half an hour before the scheduled tipoff. All fans received a full refund.
In 2012, the Amalie Arena played host to the NCAA Hockey Frozen Four championship finals; this was the first time the "Frozen Four" was held outside the northern US since 1999, when the University of Alaska Anchorage hosted the event at the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim, now the Honda Center, in Anaheim, California. The Frozen Four was hosted by the University of Alabama in Huntsville, the nearest collegiate hockey team to Florida. Boston College won the National Championship game 4-1 against Ferris State. After the success of the tournament, the NCAA selected the Arena to host the 2016 NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Tournament for the second time in four years
December 30, 2004 - Tampa Sports Authority conveys ownership of the now Amalie Arena to Hillsborough County.
The Forum was built in 1996 by the Tampa Bay Sports Authority, which was created as a public agency in 1965 for the purpose of "planning, developing and maintaining a comprehensive complex of sports and recreational facilities" in the area. According to the Authority's 2011 financial statements, the Forum is actually owned by Hillsborough County, which then leases it back to the Authority.