TAMPA BAY, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning have entered into a three-year affiliation agreement with the Orlando Solar Bears of the ECHL, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced Monday. The Solar Bears will serve as the Lightning’s primary ECHL affiliate starting with the 2018-19 season. The Lightning will play a preseason game against the Florida Panthers at Amway Center in Orlando on Thursday, September 27. Tickets for the game will go on sale to the general public on Thursday, August 23 at 10 a.m. at Ticketmaster.com.
“We are extremely happy to welcome the Orlando Solar Bears into the Lightning organization today,” Yzerman said. “The Solar Bears organization has demonstrated a strong commitment to success that has paid off with numerous playoff appearances. We look forward to being a part of their future accomplishments while also developing our prospects in a world class environment.”
“We are incredibly excited for this new partnership affiliation with the Tampa Bay Lightning,” said Alex Martins, CEO of the Orlando Magic, owners of the Solar Bears. “The Lightning is a first-class organization with tremendous values and vision and we feel very fortunate to have this opportunity to be a part of their hockey family. “
Added Dan DeVos, chairman of the Orlando Magic, “This is a great day for the Orlando Solar Bears. We couldn’t be more excited to form this partnership with a model franchise like the Tampa Bay Lightning.”
“We are thrilled to be able to announce our new affiliation with the Lightning,” Solar Bears president Chris Heller said. “This relationship will not only aid in our on-ice performance, but will also help strengthen the profile of ice hockey throughout Central Florida.”
Tickets for the Lightning’s preseason game at Amway Center on Thursday, September 27 against their cross-state rival Florida Panthers will go on sale to the general public on Thursday, August 23 at 10 a.m. at Ticketmaster.com. Exclusive pre-sales to Lightning, Magic and Solar Bears Season Ticket Members, as well as Magic Premium members will be offered throughout the week.
The Bolts’ return to Orlando will be the team’s third exhibition game at the Amway Center, home of the NBA’s Orlando Magic and the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears, and their seventh appearance there overall. Tampa Bay’s most recent game at Amway Center was September 18, 2013, a 4-3 shootout win against the St. Louis Blues.
Tampa Bay’s most recent ECHL affiliation was with the Adirondack Thunder in 2017-18. Prior to that they were affiliated with the Kalamazoo Wings for the 2016-17 season and the Florida Everblades from 2010-2013. The Lightning’s very first ECHL affiliate was the Louisville Icehawks during the Bolts’ inaugural season in 1992-93.
The Solar Bears are members of the ECHL, the premier “AA” hockey league in North America, and have qualified for the Kelly Cup Playoffs in four of six seasons. The Solar Bears are owned and operated by the Orlando Magic and the DeVos Family, while playing at the ARS.com Rink at Amway Center, the 2012 Street and Smith’s Sports Business Journal Sports Facility of the Year.