I don't think I ever met an admitted Blackhawks fan until the year 2009. Now, everywhere you look you will find them. They show up at every arena when the Hawks show up. They live in every city. In games in the south at times you can almost smell the sausage and beer wafting through downtown Chicago it feels so much like the game is in Chicago. No one knows this better than Stars fans.
The Tampa Bay Lightning know this too. When the Stanley Cup Finals begin tomorrow they are continuing a policy they have had throughout the playoffs limiting the access of fans of the Blackhawks at game one and games two, five, and seven should they all be necessary.
"Chase Club and Lexus Lounge ticket holders: Please note that for all 2015 NHL Playoff Games at Amalie Arena, only Tampa Bay Lightning apparel (or neutral) will be permitted in these club and adjoining seating areas. Fans wearing visiting team apparel will be asked to remove them while in these areas."
The Lightning also will prohibit fans with zip codes outside of Florida from purchasing tickets on either the team's website or on secondary markets.
You can't really blame the Lightning. So far they've faced the Red Wings, Canadiens, and Rangers, all teams known to travel well. The zip code policy would have particularly been useful in the Eastern Conference Finals given all of the New York transplants in Florida. Someone could run a pretty good scalping racket in a Florida zip code if they have some money and free time available it seems.
The apparel ban is an extreme measure though . We've heard of teams restricting ticket sales based on zip codes before, but forcing fans to remove clothing is one I've never heard of. If a fan is simply wearing a Blackhawks shirt with nothing under it are they going to make them go to the restroom and turn it inside out? It seems like this rule would be hard to enforce, but given how small of an area we're talking it might not be that hard.
The impacted areas are the orange sections inside the black circle and the little area inside the red box.
It will be interesting to see how these policies hold up during the Finals. I didn't get the feeling that Rangers fans were a dominant group in the games in Tampa. The same for the first two rounds. Blackhawks fans are a different breed though. They come out of the woodwork whenever Chicago is in town as we all know too well.
You do have to wonder what will happen someday when the Stars and Blackhawks meet in the playoffs again. It will happen, and is even more likely given the NHL's newer in-division playoff format. Would the Stars go so far as to ban fans from other teams from having access to the games? A zip code ban seems likely, and maybe even reasonable. The clothing ban seems like it would be way more trouble than it's worth to me though.
I guess the more important question here is would you support the Stars banning outside fanbases from having regular access at playoff games?