SBD/October 14, 2011/Franchises

NHL Panthers Cover BankAtlantic Center In Red Ahead Of Team's Home Opener

Fans entering BankAtlantic Center for the NHL Panthers' home opener against the Lightning Saturday will "see red, red and more red" as part of the team's new "We See Red" marketing campaign, according to Craig Davis of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL. The team debuted a new "blood-red jersey" in June, and response to the sweater "was so favorable ... the Panthers decided to extend the theme to red all over." Green "has been replaced by red throughout the building, on walls, sponsors signs, the scoreboard and most notably all 10,000 seats in the lower bowl." Upper bowl seats "remain blue, the team's other dominate color, but the red rampage reaches to the rafters." Pillars in the lobby "are red and display graphics of Panthers players." Even arena staff "will be decked out in red." Panthers President & COO Michael Yormark: "You're going to walk into our building and it's going to really feel like you're at the home of the Florida Panthers. It's created a new identity." He added, "When we developed this campaign we wanted to change the perception of our franchise." The home opener is not sold out; Yormark said that "about 1,000 tickets remained at midweek but was hopeful of a full house by faceoff." He said, "Some of our fans, quite frankly, have been burned in the past. I think fans are being a little more cautious" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 10/14).

OPEN HOUSE: In St. Petersburg, Susan Thurston notes the Lightning spent $40M in St. Pete Times Forum renovations this summer and "most of the work -- but not all -- should be finished" by the team's home opener Monday against the Panthers. As part of the upgrades, crews have "replaced all 19,000-plus seats with thick-cushioned ones with a cup holder." The club level "got black leather chairs with the Lightning logo; the rest got dark blue fabric seats." The suites "got a luxury makeover with new furniture, flat screen TVs, built-in beer tubs and induction burners." The team also "put together a large collection of local photographs to differentiate Tampa Bay's arena from any other city's." Nearly 100 shots of team moments and local history "are on display in the club-level concourse, along with two dozen silk canvas works measuring 7-foot-by-5." The main entrance and new restaurant will be completed "about mid November." The entrance "will have one large staircase (rather than the previous two) with access to the box office, VIP guest services and a 4,000-square-foot team store and cafe." The plaza's indoor and outdoor bar called Shots "was eliminated" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 10/14).

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