The doors to the 670,000-square-foot Tampa Bay Times Forum (originally called the Ice Palace) first opened on October 20, 1996.
Though the first event at the St. Pete Times Forum was the Royal Hanneford Circus, the first Lightning game was played on October 20, 1996, a 5-2 win over the New York Rangers.
The arena, also home to the Arena Football League’s Tampa Bay Storm, has hosted numerous high-profile events including the 1999 NHL All-Star Game, the 2007 ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament, the 2008 NCAA Women’s Final Four, the 2009 SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament, a rally for then-presidential candidate Barack Obama and more. The Tampa Bay Times Forum is scheduled to host the 2012 Republican National Convention in August, as well as the 2012 NCAA Men’s Hockey Championship, the Frozen Four (April).
In 2002, the building was renamed from the Ice Palace to the St. Pete Times Forum as part of a new partnership with the St. Petersburgh Times.
During the summer of 2011, the publicly-owned Tampa Bay Times Forum underwent a $40 million transformation that was privately funded by Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment owner and chairman, Jeff Vinik.
On December 31, 2011 the St. Petersburg Times changed its name to the Tampa Bay Times, and the arena was unveiled as the Tampa Bay Times Forum to follow suit.