SBJ/October 3-9, 2011/Franchises

Lightning carves out corners as ‘a welcoming space’ at arena

The Tampa Bay Lightning has committed two of its biggest partners to sponsor new quadrants at the St. Pete Times Forum.

As part of the arena’s $40 million renovation, the NHL team reached agreements with the St. Petersburg Times and Dex Imaging to brand two of the four quadrants in the corners of the promenade level in the lower bowl. Both deals are valued at seven figures annually.

SCOTT AUDETTE / TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
Workmen ready one of the quadrants at St. Pete Times Forum.
The southwest quadrant deal with the local newspaper is folded into its original 12-year, $30 million arena naming-rights contract. That deal expires in 2014 and did not include much exposure inside the building, said Steve Griggs, the Lightning’s chief operating officer.

Dex Imaging, the Lightning’s practice jersey sponsor, upgraded the value of its initial five-year deal announced in August 2010 to cover activation of the northeast quadrant. The original terms were six figures annually, the club said.

Pending a signed contract, Bright House Networks, another team sponsor, holds the rights to the northwest quadrant. The Lightning is in talks with firms in the automotive, banking and technology categories to sponsor the southeast quadrant, Griggs said. The goal is to have all four quadrants sold by Oct. 17, the Lightning’s first regular-season game.

The Lightning, teaming with architects Generator Studio and Kiku Obata & Co., developed the quadrants by eliminating eight suites in the lower bowl, two in each corner. Doing so opened about 4,000 square feet of standing-room space in each quadrant with drink rails. The areas extend from the concourse to the edge of the lower bowl with views to the ice and are open to all ticket holders.

Each corner has a media wall with multiple screens. In addition, Daktronics is producing large, oval-shaped LED ribbon boards to hang from the ceiling. Those structures, about a foot high and 100 feet long, can be seen from inside the seating bowl, said sports architect Ray Chandler, the Lightning’s vice president of design and construction.

“The idea was to create branding opportunities for the team’s corporate sponsors and a place for people to gather,” Chandler said. “Most important, it was done for the fans to better understand where they are in relation to the ice and the action.”

It’s about “creating a soul for the building, a welcoming space,” Griggs said. “You can stand there and have a beer while looking into the bowl. It gives the arena a sense of purpose and activity.”


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