Every now and then you are presented with an opportunity that could change your entire perspective on an industry.
Well, a few days ago I was able to experience the operations that take place behind the scenes during a Toronto Maple Leafs game at Scotiabank Arena!
Growing up as a fan, a typical game day experience would be entering the stadium and finding my seat before the game started, some food and drinks, and hopefully a win for the team I support!
When you are just a fan, you don’t realize the amount of preparation and work that goes into planning a smooth experience throughout the entire game.
I was lucky enough to take a break from the typical experience and see what it really takes to run an event with tens of thousands of fans.
Ready to hear about it?
The Job Shadow Experience
I first arrived at the Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment office on 50 Bay Street at around 4:30pm – two and a half hours before puck drop!
I was then escorted into an office where several supervisors were briefing before disseminating into their smaller teams!
This is where it all began! Hours before any fans were at the arena, the staff were preparing for another successful game!
From there, the Director of Event Services gave me a tour of some of the facility and handed me off to one of the supervisors who was giving directions to his team of ushers for the game!
They would run through important information about the game to ensure all staff members are able to communicate the same messages to fans.
This was an exhilarating part of my job shadow as I was able to stand directly behind the penalty box and in front of the Air Canada Signature Club entrance.
Fans were beginning the enter the arena and I was able to watch the players warm up right in front of me!
I was also able to meet the first of many wonderful staff who taught me a ton about the fan experience during games!
At around 6:30pm – 30 minutes before puck drop, I was handed off to another lovely staff member who was supervising the gate entrances for fans to enter the arena!
She explained how the entire process runs smoothly, taught me about ticket scanners and the incorporation of new technologies, and gave me some information on how certain situations are handled to ensure all fans have the best experience possible.
The next portion has to indirectly be my favourite part – dinner! I was treated to a buffet style dinner in the media room on ice level, while watching the first period on a giant screen!
After taking a short break, one of the assistant managers gave me a tour of outside the dressing rooms, the zamboni entrances, and the loading areas for team equipment and player transportation!
And yes – for all you hockey fans, I was able to watch the entire leafs team come out of the dressing room and on to the ice for the second period! It was only 30 seconds long, but well worth it!
After watching the players get back on the ice, I was escorted to the highest level in Scotiabank Arena – the 600 level suites. These were super cool areas to watch the game and have a bird’s eye view.
I also was able to walk through the sections where the media crew were on their laptops and providing updates by the second. Beside the media sections, there were rooms for the General Manager and other important members of each team.
Immediately after this, I was handed off to another gentleman that had been working in the arena for over 20 years. He was extremely knowledgeable and had answers to all of my questions.
He was nice enough to give me a tour of both the Scotia Club and the 200 level suites. Most of these were owned by large, corporate companies like BMO and Mastercard.
There was also one suite that was for Leafs Alumni – pretty cool!
For the last few minutes of the game, I was taken back down to the 100 level and was able to watch the Leafs beat the Penguins 4-0 – sorry Pittsburgh fans!
When the game ended, it was amazing to watch over 25,000 fans empty the building in literally 10 minutes!
The event staff do such a great job of ensuring the fan experience is wonderful from the start of the game to the end.
At this point, I wrapped up the job shadow and said goodbye to all of the staff.
It was truly an incredible experience that I would highly recommend to anyone.
If there is one key takeaway from my experience, I would say that it’s to never be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and ask to try something new.
What I mean by this is that you should never be scared to reach out to someone because you are afraid of them saying no.
Many people are willing to help you out and share new knowledge that you can’t get in the classroom environment.
I want to take a minute and acknowledge all of the wonderful staff members at MLSE that took time out of their shifts to plan and play host to me for the game.
Each one taught me something new about the industry and opened my horizons to what is possible in life. I can’t thank all of them enough!
It was great to see how each individual handles their day to day job duties and responsibilities. There are so many aspects to running an event that go beyond what you typically think as a fan.
If anyone has any questions about my experience or job shadowing, feel free to comment below or send me an email!
I am more than happy to offer a few suggestions or advice on how you can develop yourself in a professional environment.
Thanks for reading about my experience! I would love to hear about yours below!