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Halftime Spectacles and All-Day Fun are The Hallmarks of a Rush Game

The Saskatchewan Rush offer one of the most distinctive experiences in all of professional sports.

From the club’s iconic green and back jerseys with matching turf, to the pounding of one’s chest after a goal, along with the compelling play-by-play escapades of the high-energy Cody Janzen, the squad from Saskatoon possess a style that is all their own.

Another way the Rush distinguish themselves is in the manner they present the game to their legions of loyal fans. When a home game is taking place at SaskTel Centre, it is way more than a lacrosse game: it is an event.

“Even if fans know nothing about lacrosse, we want them to come to a Rush game and have a good time. Whether that’s hearing music they like, meeting celebrities, or seeing a wild and crazy halftime show, it’s all about having a great time,” explained Manager, Brand & Promotion Allison Hlady.

“We do not leave a single detail out. In our concourse, there are photobooths, activations and games. As fans are walking in the building there is immediately something to do. Once you are in our parking lot, we want to offer every touchpoint from an entertainment perspective.”

The halftime aspect of the equation, this season alone, has featured:

  • Kevin Shiflett aka “The Amazing Chin Balancer;”
  • The KC Aerials Group (Las Vegas style aerial performers);
  • The SuperDogs canine team;
  • And a dodgeball game between the University of Saskatchewan men’s soccer team and the Saskatoon Hilltops junior Canadian football team.

Then there is the recent appearance by the greatest competitive eater of all-time, the incomparable Joey Chestnut. When the 16-time Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest champion comes to town, people are going to take notice.

Joey Chestnut competes against Rush fans

“A lot of our fans were excited to meet Chestnut and he was excited to meet everyone who stopped him in the concourse. He’s a great athlete and a different kind of athlete. Many of our fans knew who he was and were excited to both talk to him and compete against him,” opined Hlady.

The Rush executive added, “Joey brought so much attention to the game, even from people not from Saskatchewan or Canada. He provided huge value in getting the name Saskatchewan Rush out there. Lacrosse fans are not necessarily competitive eating fans and competitive eating fans are not necessarily lacrosse fans, so getting that crossover is a huge benefit to us and we love seeing new fans finding out what our sport is all about.”

The Rush simply love putting on a halftime extravaganza for the fans!

Recognizing the fact that SaskTel Centre sits eight kilometers (five miles) outside of downtown Saskatoon, surrounded by vast parking lots and adjacent to the city’s international airport, the Rush employ a multi-pronged strategy with the goal of attracting a wide swath of people to the standalone sports structure.

In addition to hosting as many Saturday games as possible, the team partners with several local bars, providing buses that run back and forth from the watering holes to the arena. And once revelers have arrived at the venue, the all-day/all-night party aims to keep fans enjoying themselves from the afternoon until the clock strikes midnight.

KC Aerials performs at a Rush game

“Being outside the city, we don’t really have a walkup crowd, so when people come here it’s an event,” notes Hlady. “You’re planning all week to come to the game with your friends. We have great food and our Original 16 Founders Lounge is open postgame, till midnight. So, you can stay and enjoy live music and a few drinks. Before, in between, and after, it’s a whole experience.”

While the party crowd represents a major demographic of Rush fans, the club also works hard to provide top notch entertainment for families, offering family packs and a slew of kid friendly, in-arena activities. Last season, Hlady experienced an aha moment that very much validated her belief that a Saskatchewan game is a spectacle for all ages.

“I saw this family of grandparents, parents and kids. Everyone was up and pounding their chest when the Rush scored. The kids were excited to watch the goals and dance to the music. The grandparents had a beer in their hand. The parents were able to have some time to relax when the grandparents were watching the kids.”

With franchise marketing endeavors, player appearances and lacrosse clinics occurring throughout the province, including the Saskatoon metro area, as well as the population centers of Regina to the south and Prince Albert to the north, both the staff and players are working diligently to spread the message far and wide that a Rush game is a sight to behold.

While Derek Keenan (general manager/co-head coach) and Jimmy Quinlan (associate general manager/co-head coach) are doing their very best to put a winning product on the field, Hlady and her colleagues in the business office are working equally hard to deliver an all-around memorable experience for the fans in the stands.

“We can’t control what happens on the field, so let’s make it the best we can off the field.”

NLL