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A tour of the Tampa Bay Times Forum

It was first called the Ice Palace. Then the St. Pete Times Forum. Now it's the Tampa Bay Times Forum. It has hosted concerts, national events like the Republican National Convention and it has been the Tampa Bay Lightning's home for the past 16 years. � This year the Lightning turns 20. The Times Forum is where the Lightning won Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals in 2004. It's where the championship banner was raised the next season in front of a record crowd of 22,120. � It was also the site of the 1999 NHL All-Star Game. � Last year, the Times Forum underwent $40 million in renovations that included a pipe organ and two Tesla coils that shoot lightning from the arena's ceiling after goals. � To celebrate the Lightning's two decades, the franchise opened up the Times Forum for tours that include visits to the locker rooms, laundry room and even the VIP clubs where Clint Eastwood borrowed a chair to make his famous speech. The Times went along for a tour. Here's what we saw.

Hanging in the air is the largest scoreboard in a North American arena. It was installed this summer. The $5 million megaboard has 3,920 square feet of video display that weighs 68,000 pounds.

The digital pipe organ, which plays the national anthem and brings an old-timey feel to the Times Forum, features five keyboards and 42 ranks of sounds. It has its own dedicated sound system with 260 speakers throughout the venue.

Throughout the concourses, fans will see paths paved in two colors: tan earthy tones and a darker blue color. Each segment represents a different style scheme for that area. Tan areas signify "Tampa" zones, where the walls are decorated with Tampa historic photos and the windows have incredible views of the city. The darker areas are "Lightning" zones and fans will see team pictures, paraphernalia and artwork.

The locker room features wooden benches that players sit on along the walls. Corner locker spaces seem as if they offer more room, but really those spaces are reserved for the rookies, said former Lightning captain and team official Dave Andreychuk. Why? Because in reality, the spaces offer less legroom.

On the board of the locker room is a dry erase board that allows for game planning and tactical decisions. It also includes the words: "Dancers," "Cheap" and "Targets." Dancers are where coaches list the fighters or goons. Cheap are opposing players coaches think draw others into penalties. Targets are the other team's best players.

Guy Boucher, who studied sports psychology in college, along with three other fields of study, also put up a board in the locker room's conference room that evaluates players' feelings. The board is where each player charts whether he's feeling up or down using arrows. The entire board is covered in up arrows except for one line where someone drew a frowning face. Team star Martin St. Louis put it there after he suffered facial and nasal fractures when a puck hit him late last year.

The men's bathroom in the locker room includes a wall of Gillette razors, each assigned to a specific jersey number.

Just below the sign for Section 218 is where a Lightning employee pushes a button and fires the Tesla coils after each goal.

A tour of the Tampa Bay Times Forum 11/10/12 [Last modified: Saturday, November 10, 2012 3:31am]
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