Lightning promotion draws opposition

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Lightning's promotion offering
free beer to season ticket buyers drew the ire of safe-driving
advocates, and the team said Wednesday that it will not offer similar
promotions in the future.

During the first Eastern Conference playoff game between the
Lightning and the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday, the St. Pete
Times Forum's main scoreboard advertised the offer. Those who paid
$100 toward 2004-05 season tickets were eligible for free
beer during the game.

The Lightning clarified their promotion Wednesday, saying the
team offered four free coupons -- each redeemable for a 12-ounce
beer -- to those making ticket deposits at Saturday's game only. The
organization said the promotion will not be used again.

The coupon could also have been redeemed for soft drinks, the
team said.

"The organization apologizes to anyone who was offended or
upset by this promotion," team president Ron Campbell stated in a
release. "We take alcohol-related matters and the dispensation
of alcohol at the St. Pete Times Forum very seriously."

Police and several area chapters of Mothers Against Drunk
Driving said the hockey team's offer was irresponsible.

"Why attach alcohol to a season-ticket plan? It's almost
encouraging people to drink more than they should because it is
free," said Sgt. Chris Velar, who runs the Police Department's
drunken driving squad.

About 25 of the 21,000 people at the game signed up for season
tickets, said team spokesman Bill Wickett.

People who are already intoxicated aren't served beer and free
taxi rides are provided to patrons who believe they have had too
much to drink, Wickett said.