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Amalie Arena

Tampa, FL

Home of the Tampa Bay Storm

4.3

3.3

Amalie Arena (map it)
401 Channelside Dr
Tampa, FL 33602


Tampa Bay Storm website

Amalie Arena website

Year Opened: 1996

Capacity: 19,500

There are no tickets available at this time.

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Riders on the Storm

When speaking of the most influential Arena Football franchises, the list is short. A seasoned Arena Football fan would list four franchises as the driving force behind the league since its inception and re-inception. That list would include the Orlando Predators, San Jose SaberCats, Arizona Rattlers and probably at the top of the list would be the Tampa Bay Storm. The pedigree of the Storm is unquestioned. They are the only franchise to continuously operate, with the exception of the dark 2009 season where there were no teams, since the league’s original inception in 1987. In fact, the Storm began as the Pittsburgh Gladiators, who defeated the Washington Commandos in the first ever Arena Football game. In 1991, the Gladiators moved to Tampa, and the rest is history.

The Storm have not only shown longevity off the field, they have seen great success on the field. The Storm have laid claim to five Arena Bowl Championships. For the majority of their existence, they were led by Tim Marcum, the winningest coach in Arena Football history.

The Storm are currently owned by Jeffrey Vinik, who also owns the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning. They also share a facility with the Lightning, the Tampa Bay Times Forum. The Forum is publicly owned by the Tampa Sports Authority. The Storm have also sold the naming rights of the field to Amalie Motor Oil.

Although the Storm may be considered one of the royal teams in the Arena Football League, a trip to see them is not pretentious in any sense. The Storm work just as hard as any other promo department for any other team in any other league. The focus remains on the fan and fan experience, which results in one of the top experiences in the league, not to mention a chance to see one of the top teams in league history!

4.3

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    4

Playing in a major league arena gives the Storm access to major league concessions. There is a wide variety of options for the fan who wants to dine at the game. Little Caesar's provides pizza, Carvel provides ice cream and Coca-Cola products are the available sodas. There are also a variety of nachos available at the Nachos Cafe and a variety of gourmet hot dogs at Dockside Dogs. The selections will not blow the consumer away with the variety.

What is really impressive and gives the food mark a bit of a bump is the variety of beer available. A huge selection of craft beer is available at the Forum around at various stands and at the World of Beer concession. In addition to the anticipated Bud and Bud Lite, available varieties include Heineken, Corona, Guinness, Redd's Apple Ale, Leinenkugel's, Angry Orchard, Blue Moon and Chimay, just to name just a few.

Where concessions fall off for the most part is in the pricing. Prices are high, even compared to major league concessions [hot dog - $6.75; pizza - $7.25; soda $6; beer - $10). In a unique move, however, the Forum offers different pricing for season ticket holders, which can bring prices down to other major league teams.

Atmosphere    5

The Storm work very hard, as do most Arena Football franchises, to enhance the fan experience. The date of this review happened to be on Fan Appreciation Day, the final game of the season, so that may skew the mark slightly.

Outside the Forum, in Thunder Alley, pre-game festivities are available for fans. There are food and drink sales, live music and inflatable games for the kids. The party atmosphere begins before even entering the building. The Forum is clearly the home of the primary tenant, the Tampa Bay Lightning, but Thunder Alley is not devoid of signage and banners for the Storm, as can be the case in other arena-sharing situations.

Inside the arena, patrons are welcomed by polite and enthusiastic security and ushers. The concourses are bright and inviting and the team store is well stocked with Storm apparel as well as Lightning paraphernalia. The seating bowl is what you would expect from a major arena. There are three levels of seating, with the majority of fans in the lower two levels and the upper level very sparsely populated.

Immediately eye catching when arriving in your seat is the massive pipe organ in the upper deck behind the end zone. The organ takes up what could easily be considered one section and is lit up during the game. During the National Anthem it is lit up with the red, white and blue of the American Flag and during the game it is mainly lit up with the blue and gold of the Storm. Unfortunately it is not utilized for Arena Football games.

The rafters feature the banners of the 2004 Stanley Cup winning Tampa Bay Lightning. Not to be ignored, however, are the three banners signifying the five Arena Bowls the Storm captured in 1991, 1993, 1995, 1996 and 2003. Also around the lower bowl are banners honoring the retired numbers of Storm greats including George LaFrance, Stevie Thomas, Sylvester Bemberry, Al Lucas, Tracey Perkins, current head coach and former player Lawrence Samuels, current Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden and Hall of Fame coach Tim Marcum.

The game day experience at a Storm game is high-octane. Arena Football itself offers a fast-paced, high-offense alternative to regular outdoor football. Heart-pumping music is the norm between plays. Before the game the Riders on the Storm, the team biker group, enter on their motorcycles. On fan appreciation night, the Storm players entered with a fan or two introduced and accompanying them on the field. Also, when the Storm score a touchdown the lightning machines high above the field produce lightning.

Neighborhood    4

The Tampa Bay Times Forum is located in downtown Tampa in the Channelside area. There are three upscale hotels in the immediate vicinity, specifically Embassy Suites, Marriott and the Westin across the channel on the island. The Florida Aquarium is just a block or so away for some other family entertainment. Also across Old Water Street is the Tampa Bay History Center.

As far as eating establishments, there are a few in the immediate vicinity that you may consider. Just up the street on Channelside Drive you will find Wet Willie's, Precinct Pizza, and the original Hooters. If you are looking for a bit more upscale dining experience, I would suggest Jackson's Bistro, which is located on Westin Island, just across the channel.

Fans    5

Consistently, the Storm have attendance that is in the top three in Arena Football. The 2014 season saw the Storm average over 11,000 fans per game, which was the best in the entire league. The Storm fans are loud and boisterous and a part of the action throughout the game. There are also more Storm jerseys in the crowd than any other Arena Football experience.

Access    3

Florida traffic can be a real pain. During the summer of 2014 there was plenty of road construction which slowed everything right down. The Forum is located just south of the Selmon Expressway, which is a toll road. In 2014 there is significant construction on Tampa highways, which slows everything down. If you are coming from out of town, I-4 can also be difficult to navigate through the traffic. There are a few parking facilities around the Forum, and parking should not be a problem. Prepaid parking is available for those who wish to really plan ahead.

There is a little bit of transit available to get to the Forum. Both the 8 and 19 buses run right by the Forum.

Once inside, the lower attendance at a Storm game versus a Lightning game makes the concourses easier to maneuver and washroom facilities are more than adequate.

Return on Investment    5

Arena Football is almost always a great investment. With prices that are not close to the major league sports franchises, and an entertainment value that is extremely high, the return on investment is definitely in favour of the fan.

Extras    4

An extra mark goes to the NFL connection. The President of the Storm is Tampa Bay Buccaneer legend, and Pro Football Hall of Famer, Derrick Brooks.

An extra mark goes to the Arena Football League for their practice of allowing any football thrown in the stands to be a souvenir. The quarterbacks help out the fans on occasion throwing balls well into the stands.

An extra mark for the consistency of the Storm both on and off the field. They are one of the stalwart franchises in the league.

An extra mark for the rivalry with the Orlando Predators. The War on I-4 is the Arena Football equivalent of Yankees-Red Sox.

Final Thoughts

Catching an Arena Football game is always fun. Getting the opportunity to see one of the historically greatest AFL franchises at home is even more of a treat. If you are a sports fan, and looking for something to break up the baseball-dominated summer, a trip to see the Tampa Bay Storm should be on your to-do list.

Follow all of Dave's sporting adventures on Twitter @profan9.

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Crowd Reviews

An Underwhelming (Yet Satisfying) Storm

Total Score: 3.29

  • Food & Beverage: 2
  • Atmosphere 4
  • Neighborhood: 3
  • Fans: 4
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 3
  • Extras: 3

The Tampa Bay Storm, for lack of a better analogy, are the New York Yankees of the Arena Football League - which is quite fitting as Tampa is the Yanks' home away from home. They are the winningest team in AFL history, having won five of the (as of June 2011) 23 ArenaBowls, after attending nine of them, and missing the playoffs only twice: 2006 and 2008.

Born in Pittsburgh as the Gladiators in 1987, they are one of the four founding members of the AFL, and with the demise of the other three (Chicago Bruisers in 1990, Denver Dynamite in 1992, and Washington Commandos in 1991), the only remaining link to the league's beginnings. Poor attendance, and the fluidity of moves, startups, and foldings in the league that persist to this day, forced the team to move into an untapped market with a brand new, shiny stadium patiently-awaiting a new tenant: St. Petersburg, Florida, and the Florida Suncoast Dome. While originally built for baseball, the city graciously played host to this new team from this very-unique concept of a sport, and due to the team's new name of "Storm" and as a nod to the common summertime meteorological feature, the stadium was renamed the "Thunderdome".

In the meantime, the Tampa Bay Lightning would be awarded to Tampa by the NHL, and would begin playing in 1992. The only space available on the east side of Tampa Bay at the time was the Florida State Fairgrounds' main venue, Expo Hall. Its 10,000-seat capacity in hockey configuration proved to be too small for such a popular sport, and the team was promptly moved to the Thunderdome. At this point, the Storm and Lightning became linked.

After winning four AFL championships while playing in the Thunderdome (with their third, ArenaBowl IX in 1995, being played at home in the Thunderdome against their "War on I-4" rivals, the Orlando Predators), their "big brother" team - the Lightning - successfully brokered a deal to have their new home, the Tampa Bay Times Forum, built and opened, thus freeing up the newly-christened Tropicana Field to its original purpose: baseball.

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Local Food & Drink

Hattricks  (map it!)

107 S Franklin St

Tampa, FL 33602

(813) 225-4288

http://www.hattrickstavern.com/

Wet Willie's  (map it!)

615 Channelside Dr

Tampa, FL 33602

(813) 221-5650

http://wetwillies.com/

Tampa Marriott Waterside  (map it!)

700 S Florida Ave

Tampa, FL 33602

(813) 221-4900

http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/tpamc-tampa-marriott-waterside-hotel-and-marina/

Precinct Pizza  (map it!)

615 Channelside Dr

Tampa, FL 33602

(813) 228-6973

http://precinctpizza.com/

Original Hooters  (map it!)

615 Channelside Dr

Tampa, FL 33602

(813) 221-2600

http://www.originalhooters.com/locations/tampa-bay/channelside/

Jackson's Bistro  (map it!)

601 S Harbour Island Blvd

Tampa, FL 33602

(813) 277-0112

http://www.jacksonsbistro.com/

Local Entertainment

Channelside Bay Plaza  (map it!)

615 Channelside Dr

Tampa, FL 33602

(813) 223-4250

http://www.channelsidebayplaza.com/

The Florida Aquarium  (map it!)

701 Channelside Dr

Tampa, FL 33602

(813) 273-4000

http://www.flaquarium.org/

Tampa Bay History Center  (map it!)

801 Old Water St

Tampa, FL 33602

(813) 228-0097

http://tampabayhistorycenter.org/

Lodging

Tampa Marriott Waterside  (map it!)

700 S Florida Ave

Tampa, FL 33602

(813) 221-4900

http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/tpamc-tampa-marriott-waterside-hotel-and-marina/

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