Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Pittsburgh shop touts Penguins T-shirt mocking Tampa Bay Lightning's playoff dress code

Amalie Arena has a policy to keep opposing team gear out of select seating during the playoffs. So a Pittsburgh design shop is helping Penguins fans attempt to bypass the rule with a little flare — and sass.

CommonWealth Press Tweeted about one of its latest shirt designs on Monday: a Lightning-blue T-shirt with the words "THIS IS NOT A PGH PENGUINS TSHIRT."

Except, "this is not" and "tshirt" are in tiny, easy to miss lettering.

"It's the joke it appears to be," Commonwealth Press owner and designer Dan Rugh told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "Anything to push anybody's buttons, you know?"

The Lightning policy bars opposing team colors in premium seating in the Chase Club Level 4 and the Lexus Lounge. Anyone sporting the offending gear — which is black and gold for the Pens — will be told to put on neutral colors.

Club members asked the team to do something about opposing team colors in the premier seats and "99.9 percent" of them want the policy, Lightning CEO Steve Griggs told the Tampa Bay Times last month.

The Pittsburgh T-shirt is the latest shot fired in the battle between fans of the two teams, which are now tied at one game apiece in the Eastern Conference finals. Over the weekend, Lightning fans created a Twitter hashtag to #BoycottBradenton after the city's tourism bureau gave out "Let's Go Pens" towels to visiting fans

Griggs said there were only about seven instances last playoff season when someone was asked to change.

During last year's Stanley Cup run, the Bolts also set tight restrictions on who could buy game tickets — a tactic the team says it no longer needs.

An energized fan base, team officials say, has pushed season-ticket sales to 13,500. Season ticket holders get first pick for playoff games, which doesn't leave many available for opposing fans.

Fans in bigger markets may mock the Bolts policies via sarcastic tees and tweets, but Griggs said they're there to help build a passionate fan base.

Rugh told the Post-Gazette on Monday evening he had sold only a few of the $20 shirts.

"I can't see how many people are actually going to buy that one, but it was funny to do it," he told the paper. "I hope I'm wrong. I hope we sell 1 billion shirts."

Contact Sara DiNatale at [email protected] or (813) 226-3400. Follow @sara_dinatale on Twitter.

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