The Tampa Bay Times Forum is home of the Tampa Bay Lightning and host to some of the biggest entertainment names to come to the city. It was also the site of the 2012 Republican National Convention. The Forum's impressive size of 670,000 square feet with three decks and seven separate levels help account for its fame. The design provides 19,758 seats for NHL games, 20,500 seats for basketball games and up to 21,500 seats for concerts and center stage events.
In 2011, a $35 million renovation project turned one of Tampa's premiere event facilities into an even grander example of Tampa's ability to play host. The changes made to the enormous venue included a rebuild of every suite, with 60 feet added to each, removal of eight suites to allow for more standing room, and a remodel of fifth-floor suite bathrooms. Marble countertops, drink rails, induction burners, tile flooring, custom lighting and new leather seats add an even greater feel of luxury to the suites.
The suites weren't the only part of the Forum to undergo improvement, though. The regular seating area replaced plastic seats with plush cushioned seats, each with a drink holder. Other changes include a more efficient air conditioning system, brighter lighting and coils of Tesla on either side of the scoreboard that will emit lightning, to emphasize the Forum's signature. A massive pipe organ was also added.
Outside, a new party deck offers a great view of the city before or after events, complementing a giant outside concourse that makes a great spot for watch parties when the Lightning make the playoffs.
Medallions Food Services is the official concessionaire of the Forum, providing a diverse menu available throughout the arena at restaurants Medallions and Icons, in luxury suites and the concourse concessions.
The Forum first opened its doors in 1996 under the title Ice Palace, as new home for the Lightning. It has exchanged hands five times since. A long-term marketing agreement with the Tampa Bay Times (formerly the St. Petersburg Times) and the Forum's ownership gives the mammoth structure its name.
The Forum has hosted concerts, NBA exhibition games, USF basketball and NCAA Tournament games, plus tennis, professional wrestling, boxing, figure skating and rodeos. In 2012, the Forum will play host to the NCAA Hockey Frozen Four championship finals.