Bringing guests ontothe football field for an upscale tailgate party turned the Canadian Football League’s 100th anniversary gala into an edgy, once-in-a-lifetime event.
For the milestone Scotiabank 100th Grey Cup Gala, Calgary-based event production company POP Kollaborative brought the experience onto the playing field at Rogers Centre in Toronto, creating an exclusive, unprecedented event for 1,400 VIP guests. What had traditionally been a formal, sit-down affair became a multifaceted event celebrating both the legacy of the CFL and its fans.
“We turned the event on its ear,” says POP Kollaborative president and creative director Kenneth Kristoffersen, CSEP, CEM. “The venue was completely unique in the fact that events are not allowed on the playing field. Our event was the exception.”
However, using the a football field as the venue by no means meant a casual event; in fact, keeping the glamor yet adding an edge was paramount in the producer’s mind. “The overall idea was to create a tailgate party that was both stylish and sophisticated enough to please a crowd accustomed to a black-tie affair,” Kristoffersen explains.
To that end, the event team, which also included Decor and More, chefs Mark McEwan and Rob Gentile, and in-house caterer Aramark Food Services, focused on three primary elements to create “moments” throughout the night—cuisine, decor and entertainment—to stimulate the senses. “There can be no complete connection to the CFL and its signature event without thinking about the intimate memories and unique moments that each game has generated throughout the years,” Kristoffersen says. “Each one of those unique moments is what inspired our approach to the evening.”
THE CUISINE MOMENT Playing off the idea of a high-end tailgate party, typical game-day fare was given was given a gourmet touch with passed hors d’oeuvre, such as crispy sausage stuffed olives and grilled lamb chops, and action stations featuring braised short ribs with mascarpone polenta, Italian-style pulled pork paninis, meatball sliders, and grilled prawns with orange-fennel slaw. A charcuterie station attended by professional fromagiers featured local Canadian sliced meats and cheeses, while a gourmet salt bar added a trendy, artisanal touch. Hostesses were assigned to each zone to attend to the guests' every need.
THE DECOR MOMENT To continue the casually elegant tailgate experience, the field was sectioned into zones filled with comfortable lounge seating—brightly colored couches, ottomans and accent tables with textured fabric throws and pillows. Dining areas included colored, acrylic-topped pub and communal tables embellished with the Scotiabank logo paired with clear acrylic chairs, as well as serpentine tables wrapped in spandex covers with plexi-chairs in primary colors. Floral throughout the stadium featured modern, architectural angles in palettes of blues, purples, reds and yellows with accents of greens, tropical leaves and silver branches ...