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The NHL Centennial Exhibit motors into Tampa

For the better part of the last year, the NHL’s Centennial Fan Arena Tour has been meandering across the U.S. and Canada.  Finally, eleven months after they started, the trucks end up in Tampa. From Thursday to Saturday the NHL will set up shop in front of Amalie Arena (specifically in the Silver Parking Lot which is next to Thunder Alley) and local fans will be able to take part in the exhibit – for free.

Personally I’ve seen the exhibit in three different locations. For a while I thought it was stalking me. First – in San Jose in January. Then at the draft in Chicago (by far the most crowded of the locations). Finally it popped up at the Minnesota State Fair, because nothing goes better with corn dogs and milkshake beers than running around playing ball hockey.

The highlight of the exhibit is the 53-foot mobile museum truck which is basically a mini hall of fame is filled with a nice combination of digital, interactive displays and old school equipment that traces the 100-year history of the NHL.  Did you know it was the 100th year of the NHL? Perhaps they should have marketed it a bit more.

In addition to the museum truck there is virtual Zamboni race, a ball hockey rink and other activities. Next to the museum truck there will also probably be another large truck dedicated to showing videos and trivia dedicated to the Lightning and the NHL. The truck and stage area will be the backdrop for the Lightning’s  Morning Skate Show on Saturday at 10:30am

The Lightning also announced that there will be a rock climbing wall, human gyroscope (not sure what that it is, but I wouldn’t eat a lot before getting it) and a bungee trampoline. Most likely there will be some sort of entertainment from a live band, much like they do on Thunder Alley prior to games.

The three times I ran into the exhibit there was a line for the museum truck. After all there is a limited amount of space inside a 53-foot truck.  The line does move fairly quickly and it’s definitely worth seeing the items that they have inside. It’s always remarkable when you see what the players used consider protection back in the 1940s and 1950s. Not only the goalie equipment, but also the skates and pads that the players wore.

According to the NHL they do tailor the exhibit for the city it’s in. When I saw it in San Jose there wasn’t much from the Lightning on the display…well there wasn’t really anything. So it will be interesting if they work in some more items, especially with Dave Andreychuk’s recent induction into the Hall of Fame.

Inside the truck there was an interactive video board with a rotating, 3-D Stanley Cup. It sounds stupid, but it was actually fun spinning it around and zooming in on the portion with 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning roster.

Not only will you be able to see a digital representation of the Stanley Cup, the greatest trophy in all of sports will be there in all of it’s shiny wonderfulness. Again, you may have to wait in line to get your photo with the Cup, but they move the line pretty quickly. Don’t worry if you show up without a friend, they have volunteers that will be more than happy to take your photo for you.

There will also be a chance on Saturday for fans to get their picture taken with a local legend. Stanley Cup hero Ruslan Fedotenko will be posing for pictures with fans from 12:00-12:45 on that day.  Also, on Thursday the 7th from 5:30pm to 6:00pm the USA Women’s Hockey team (aka the good US Hockey team) will be signing autographs.

The posted hours for the event are:

Thursday 12/7 – 1pm-7pm

Friday 12/8 – 1pm-8pm (Stanley Cup from 1pm-6pm)

Saturday 12/9 – 1pm-8pm (Stanley Cup from 1pm-6pm)

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