Thursday, May 4, 2017

A Suite Guy

The typical first response my wife gets when she asks some of her parents friends what they think of me is, “He’s such a sweet guy.” It’s not always my favourite (or the coolest) answer however it is much better than many other words that could have been used to describe their first impression of me.  So, over time and especially after marriage, I’ve just accepted that most people over the age of 50 think of me as a “sweet guy.”

But recently something happened that I never expected, I’ve transformed into a “suite guy.” 

I’ve been attending live sports matches ever since I was 5 years old and my little league baseball team would have outings to watch the then California Angles (now Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) play inside of the Big ‘A’. From there my live sports viewing journey took me to NFL, NBA, NHL, WWE, IPL, HIL, Olympics, Commonwealth Games, Minor League baseball, College sports, Motorsports and even Bull Fighting competitions not to mention the hundreds of live football matches I’ve been to as a professional in the industry and lover of the beautiful game.  During all of these experiences, I was always most happy sitting with the supporters contributing to the collective energy while munching on unhealthy food and never thought that this would change...until it did.

Now I’m a “suite guy.” This past week in England confirmed it.  Thanks to my profession I do get plenty of opportunities to watch live football matches in a hospitality box or corporate suite and, while I love the experience, I always justify it in my head saying that it’s an obligation to be there as part of my job.  However this past week I was in the UK for some meetings but happened to get passes for the Chelsea FC vs Tottenham Hotspur FA Cup semi-final at Wembley Stadium and the Liverpool FC vs Crystal Palace match at Anfield. I didn’t have any major professional responsibilities during either match so I could just watch as an individual who enjoys the sport more than someone representing a particular organisation or business deal.

Both sets of passes were located in corporates suites at Wembley and Anfield and I was honestly blown away by the hospitality.  I took my Brother-in-law and Sister-in-law and definitely won some family brownie points thanks to the type of service we received.  3 course gourmet meals & entertainment prior to kick off, champagne, wine, beer & spirits served throughout the match and, of course, incredible seats to watch the game.  And to top it all off, they leave the suite open for at least an hour after the match so you can celebrate the win, drink away the losing sorrows or just enjoy fine cheeses and networking while the area outside of the stadium clears.

As I’ve said, I’ve experienced much of this type of hospitality in the past but what amazed me was how seem-less it is to be privy to all this luxury while still getting a full match experience.  In the past, many of the boxes I would be in meant that you would actually have to watch the match from the box through a glass screen, on the suite TV or in areas that felt disconnected and isolated from the hardcore supporters therefore missing out on some of the passion within the stadium.  But this was different as those planning hospitality at Wembley Stadium and the new stand at Anfield made sure that the lucky ones that have the opportunity to watch the match from a corporate suite also get the full live match experience. 

It was a dream football weekend washing plates of Foie Gras down with fine champagne while watching some of the top players in the world inside of two of football’s most historic stadiums.  So, yes, apparently I’ve become a “suite guy.”

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