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Mid-season stadium report
Part I: Southeast Division
1/22/07 - By Jess Knaster

Over the past few weeks, you've probably read many mid-season reports on the Sharks (or your favorite team) and how they're doing at the halfway point, both as a team, and individually. As a(n) (amateur) journalist covering the entire season, I feel it is my duty to crank out a mid-season report as well. Now, before you close the window or type in a new url, this report card is a bit different. As the Odyssey has dealt with the fan aspect of the game, as well at the travel aspect of the season, I figured I should provide a card that reflects that. This is part one in a four part series of mid-season reports, each part will cover a different division, and I'll be going down the division in alphabetical order.

Let's start with the Southeast Division in the Eastern Conference, the one Eastern Conference division I get to visit this year.

Florida Panthers @ BankAtlantic Center: 10/31

Building: B+. Relatively normal sized, lots of glass the only real downside are the multiple concourses.

Seating Area: B. Good steep sightlines upstairs, big emphasis on sitting downstairs, one of the larger lower bowls I've seen.

Atmosphere: C. The few fans that there were on this night were loud and decked out in Panther Garb.

Concessions: B. Several bar areas, even more food court areas, great selection upstairs and down.

Hospitality: B. In South Florida, they don't see many Sharks fans, so they weren't mean at all, cept for that drunk Ranger fan.

Overall Grade: B. Beautiful building, great concessions, and a cool entrance to the team store in the lobby (giant panther head), it's a shame that this place has to be in the middle of a swamp. One step outside, even at 10:00 p.m. and the weather makes hockey the last thing that comes to mind. The few thousand that cheer for the Panthers night in and night out are good fans, it's a shame they can't draw more in such a great building.

Tampa Bay Lightning @ St. Pete Times Forum: 10/29

Building: C+. Nice and huge outside, nice and huge inside, but it was impossible to find the damn escalator.

Seating Area: B+. Even with room for 19,500, the Pete has great sightlines everywhere, even way up in the rafters.

Atmosphere: A. Constant chants from loud, energetic, knowledgable, properly outfitted fans. In Florida, no less.

Concessions: C-. Not a very large choice of food, but a large drink was only 3 bucks.

Hospitality: B+. Only spoke to one Lightning fan, but he was very nice and complemented my team on a good game.

Overall Grade: B+. A great building, great fans, and a wicked loud horn. A fun place to watch a game, despite sitting in a plastic chair. Some good eats nearby, and with the poor concessions, it might be the best way to get rid of that hunger before or after a game.

Jess will be attending the following SE Conference games later this season:
- Washington Captials @ Verizon Center: 2/21
- Atlanta Thrashers @ Philips Arena: 3/22
- Carolina Hurricanes @ RBC Center: 3/24

Next up: Western Conference, Central Division


Contact Jess at sharkshockeyodyssey@yahoo.com

Catch his blog Sharks Hockey Odyssey




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