Amalie Arena – Blackened Steel Project


Home of NHL Tampa Bay Lightning, the “Bolts”; 2004 Stanley Cup winner; 2015 Defending Eastern Champions; and Arena Football League Tampa Bay Storm, four-time ArenaBowl champions.

670,000-sq-ft arena holds 20,500 guests

2015 Lightning upgrade included reconstruction of the club level, including the addition of Vology loge boxes, updated concessions and an expanded exterior deck of the club level.

Renovation called for “black steel,” to be used on signage, loge entryways, bar backsplashes, kick plates and baseboards.


Architect: General Contractor: Building Project Contractor: Signage: Black Oxide:
Generator Studio LLC, Kansas City Mortenson Construction, Minneapolis, MN Cladding Systems
Creative Sign Designs
Cleveland Black Oxide
A full-service architecture firm with experience in higher education, residential, commercial, mixed-use, hospitality, entertainment, sports and urban planning projects. Leading builder of sports and entertainment facilities construction specialists in the U.S. Dealer, fabricator and installer of metal exterior walls and roofs, and other metal building elements. Tampa-based leader in custom interior and exterior signage. Largest U.S. commercial black oxide company providing metal finishing services to a broad range of industries.
Position: Position: Position: Position: Position:
Specified “blackened steel finish”. Directed renovation; modified drawings. Worked with Cleveland Black Oxide on other arena renovations and referred CBO to Creative Sign Designs for loge signage to match those areas. Worked on other aluminum signage in the arena but needed a specialist to achieve the blackened look the architect wanted. Creative Sign Designs provided specifications to CBO on sign color and fabrication. Provided blackened steel finish for two tall and wide side entries into loge; doorframes, shelves and back splash and kick plate for the wine bar on the floor below. Recommended by Cladding Systems to provide fabrication and black oxide for the Vology loge bar signage, black splash and other bar spaces.

The Face-off

The Bolts’ 2014-15 season extended into playoffs; that left a very tight timeframe to complete major renovations to the arena before the new hockey season opened in October 2015. All project players had 100 days to coordinate and get the job done. For CBO, that meant the black steel had to be done exactly right with multiple partners and last-minute modifications.

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Based on shop drawings, get four 105-pound metals signs with 10 unusually shaped (long) fabricated letters mounted onto the blackened steel and safely shipped in a two-month timeframe.


The biggest challenge for CBO was that the large, square pieces were angled and two-dimensional, unlike most generic pieces of steel

The long waterjet cut aluminum letters were placed deep into the walls of the sign in a recessed “shoebox” design.

The signs had to have pre-drilled holes to match the stud locations in the walls were they would be hung.

Some large pieces, 7ft x 4ft, were tricky and CBO had the largest tanks to get the job done.” –Cladding Systems

We typically do a lot of aluminum, but we were thrown a curveball when the specs called for blackened steel. We needed to look for a quality specialist; that’s what led us to CBO. They performed it nicely.” –Creative Sign Designs

CBO had the capability to eliminate many of the steps in taking care of all aspects for the lettering.” –Creative Sign Designs


Find a way to package and ship the signs safely and cost-efficiently in a manner that allowed for immediate placement once they arrived at the arena.

We took extra precautions with packaging. Each box was packed snugly with protective foam. All the client had to do in pull the signs right out of the boxes.” –Cleveland Black Oxide

THE Powerplay

When the blackened metal arrived, it was deemed “too nice” for the desired look of the loge bar. CBO immediately provided two solutions – oil and wax – to achieve the finished look.

The Vology sponsor chose Renaissance Wax, which CBO had sent, complete with rag! It got the effect he was after—CBO got the client what he wanted, even though it was a moving target at times.” –Cladding Systems


The signs arrived undamaged and ready to hang hours before the gates opened on Oct. 8, 2015, for game one, Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Philadelphia Flyers. The Bolts win!

Black metal is more and more a popular finish. When the need arises, we’ll definitely work with CBO again. They are very accessible and easy to work with!” –Creative Sign Designs

I worked with CBO throughout the process. Despite multiple changes from the contractor, CBO was very positive; their quick response helped move the project along.” –Cladding Systems

CBO was able to eliminate several steps by taking care of the lettering. We were thrown a curveball when the spec called for the blackened steel – CBO performed it nicely. In a week—they did a good job for us. We’ve added CBO to our vendor list as a result.” –Creative Sign Designs