During the height of the pandemic, attendance caps in all of sports greatly diminished access to the camaraderie of being in the arena with your favorite team.
And this was never truer than with our own Tampa Bay Lightning, who pulled off a stunning Stanley Cup Win during last year’s fan-less, distanced, bubbled-in-a-far-off-land playoffs, and then doubled it up with an amazing back-to-back Stanley Cup win in 2021.
But necessity is the father of invention, and the Bolts will be the first to tell you that Lightning cannot strike without Thunder. And from this truth we’ve been able to pull off a hat trick of great work for the Lightning showing the inseparability of team and fans. This work was awarded 10 Clio awards in 2021, three Silvers and seven Bronze, and helped catapult the Lightning the Team of the Year status by the international Clios.
All On Board
During the 2020 playoff each sport was trying to find a way to bring a fan presence back into their arenas. For some, that looked like literally filling the stands with cutouts of fans. The Lightning, though, have always been less literal. They like a bit of poetry, which is why we keyed in on the glass that lines every hockey arena. We took the thing that traditionally separated fans and players, and used it as a canvas for both to write messages of support to one another.
The player signed glass went out into the community, which was in need of barriers to help protect frontline workers battling the pandemic. The fan signed glass traveled with the team to the playoff bubble, and there’s a small, very-stitious part of us that likes to think it played a role in that win.
As the 2021 season got rolling it was clear that we weren’t going to be back in our seats any time soon. The Distant Thunder was louder than ever with their show of support on social media, and the Lightning were looking for more ways to have fans stick with the team from afar.
Then it hit us: hockey tape was used by every single player, every single game. By working with the team’s supplier we printed custom tape featuring messages of fan support which the players affixed to their gear. For the first time ever, Lightning was able to carry the Thunder into battle with them.
Maybe it was madness. Maybe it was all the distanced concepts we’d been brainstorming for over a year. Maybe it was just homesickness. Whatever it was, at a certain point we realized that we simply missed being in the arena. Oh, what we would give to just be in the building for a night.
“Wait, say that again?”
And thus, Lightning Room&Boards was born from our collective daydreaming about an arena sleepover. We worked with the team to spruce up a section of their club seating with a bedroom set and all the amenities. AirBnB came through and helped us list the space for rental. And the NHL? They said guests could spend some time with that big beautiful hockey trophy everyone’s always talking about, as a treat.
Proceeds from renting the room all went to charity, which makes us feel comfortable calling it a true Bed and Breakfast of Champions.