Sorry, Blackhawks fans: You’re not welcome at Lightning games

The Stanley Cup Final begins Wednesday in Tampa, Fla.

The Eastern Conference champion Tampa Bay Lightning take on the Western champion Chicago Blackhawks.

The first two games (and Games 5 and 7 if necessary) are in Tampa, and the Lightning are doing everything possible to avoid an invasion of Chicago fans.

On the "Buy tickets" page of the Lightning’s website, there’s the below note:

OK, so the Lightning are afraid of too many fans in attendance cheering for the other team?

They’re not the first team to do this. Other teams have instituted the same rule, only selling tickets to people in their area or state. The Nashville Predators exercised the same policy vs. the Blackhawks in the opening round of the playoffs.

But the Lightning, who have sold out all their home playoff games this season, have taken this "It’s our home arena" approach to an another level entirely.

Also noted on the team’s ticket-purchasing website page is:

It needs to be pointed out that the Chase Club and Lexus Lounge, premier ticket areas, only affect less than 10 percent of the 19,204-seat venue, as reported by The New York Times. The Chase Club holds about 1,000 people, while the Lexus Lounge seats 390.

The Times added that spectators who refuse to change their apparel are moved outside the premier areas and given another seat. But no one is thrown out of the arena.

"We’re not going to apologize for the policy," Lightning executive vice president of communications Bill Wickett said, according to The Times. "We want to create as much of a hometown environment for the Lightning players and our season-ticket holders as we can, and we’ve been somewhat successful at it. …

"We understand some general hockey fans don’t like it, but the Lightning team and the Lightning fans need to come first. We wanted to do anything we could to make sure the building is blue and fans inside are Lightning fans."

The team is willing to work with Lightning fans who live outside of the Sunshine State.

"We’ve taken several calls, e-mails and social-media posts from Lightning fans that are outside Florida," Wickett said, via The Times. "If they reach out to us and we have a conversation with them, we have no problem selling them tickets."

STANLEY CUP CHASE

This is the first year Tampa Bay instituted the apparel policy after complaints from Lightning season-ticket holders about too many opposing fans finding their way into the premier areas.

Just wondering: Would the Lightning kick Michael Jordan out of a premier seat or club if he showed up wearing a Blackhawks jersey?