Experiencing football while growing one’s network

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A spectator sits in a football stadium. Drinks are being served to them while someone does their nails.
Sports would be a lot more interesting if it came with this sort of treatment. AKrebs60 via Pixabay, manipulated by Lee Lim

An opportunity to enjoy sports while meeting like-minded people

Sports communities are very popular in North America, and highly celebrated and cherished in Canada. People are excited about and look forward to football games and as they head over to the stadium sporting their team colour and pride, there is nothing but enthusiasm for their team. There is a lot of impact in the community through these games and the local businesses stand to gain much out of these events.  

Businesses and organizations come together to support the community and bring forth an evening of laughter, cheer, competition, and learning. The Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce, Saskatchewan Young Professionals and Entrepreneurs (SYPE) Regina and Saskatoon, along with local entrepreneurs collaborated with Saskatchewan Roughriders to offer an exclusive VIP experience on July 15. The event was held at The Terrace on Level 3 of Mosaic Stadium, with the chance to mingle and talk to people as there are no assigned seats. “You feel like a part of the group or a family” says Talitha McCloskey, Board President of SYPE Regina. The intention was to give entrepreneurs the platform to come together, network, and learn about each other’s business all while having a great time at the game. The entire experience was indeed successful and beautifully curated.  

As the stadium filled with people in their green jerseys, it was the true ambience of a Canadian football game with fans cheering for their team, foam fingers showcasing the “GO RIDERS” message, and beers available for $5. Experiencing The Terrace as opposed to being on the stands was well-embraced by many. The entrepreneurs were observed mingling, talking, and connecting to each other with a common ground of supporting their favourite team. With such an impact on the sports community and giving back to people, organizations like SYPE and Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce have done a lot to support the growth and forward movement of businesses involved.  

“The Saskatoon team took the charge on planning this for the entire membership” says McCloskey. Having faced no trouble or limitations to get the tickets and access to the platform and event, SYPE Board members seemed thrilled to be there and hop on an opportunity to grow their network. In conversation with the CEO of Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce, Jason Aebig, it was learned that since the age of 15 Aebig has been to nearly 100 games, and was looking forward to the VIP experience organized by his team along with the SYPE chapters. “Allowing businesspeople across the province to come in together and have some fun,” says Aebig. The idea of gathering professionals together for an atmosphere like that was clearly indicated and intended through the goodies handed out like foam fingers and pom poms.  

“The Roughriders’ organization value people coming to the game. This is one way to have a partnership with them where we bring a lot of people to the game and they provide us with the opportunity to network and know each other” says Aebig. The collaboration with the Roughriders was a smooth process from developing the price to getting members the access. The experience in The Terrace area was impeccable and gave a sense of a private watch party.  

“It is a cool set up. It is a nice atmosphere, for sure. The lights are really pretty,” says Andrew Tran, Board member with SYPE Regina. For first-timers like McCloskey and Tran, The Terrace experience was a lot of fun. As for her first Riders game, Meaghan Butler – Saskatoon SYPE Board member on the Marketing and Events Committee – described the venue as “really beautiful.” Being involved with sports like softball since childhood and with her brothers playing football, she was excited to be there on The Terrace and watch the game.  

The organizing team on The Terrace cross-checked the name of the individuals coming from different chapters, indicating a well-planned and prepared setup for the members to access. A complimentary drink ticket was also given to everyone attending the VIP experience with the organizations. Meanwhile, as the players tackled and piled on each other, Riders were leading 7-0 with one touchdown and one field goal. It was an exciting atmosphere to be a part of, with people cheering and waiting for their favorite players to tackle and take down the opposite team. Involving the fans on the field, there was Toss the Rock where fans get a chance to toss the football at a moving truck. It was absorbed with fun and laughter in the crowd.  

With the theme of the game being celebrating Indigenous culture within our community, the members surely acknowledged the theme and cheered during the opening First Nations dance. As half-time approached, Terrance Littletent performed a beautiful display of hoop dancing. Hoops formed beautiful shapes, curated with an array of different colours. The performance was acknowledged with a standing ovation and thunderous applause. The cheerleading team did a great show of support for the players as they continued to lift up scores. A lot of fan involvement initiatives were observed throughout the stadium, including a kiss cam and challenges with rewards of gift cards. The wave dance was well-enjoyed by the audience as they continued doing it for three or more rounds. The local entrepreneurs continued discussing, mingling and talking to each other while enjoying the game.  

With losing our quarterback, Trevor Harris, for a tibial plateau fracture of his right knee, fans were giving up hope until seven seconds to the game’s end when we were a point ahead. Until the last three seconds there was anticipation of a home win, until the last goal by the Stampeders and their clear win of 33-31. The fans departed with loss in their hearts but love for the team. On the other hand, the entrepreneurs felt contented and satisfied on contributing to the sports community by gathering for a common cause. 

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