The best game in town

Where to entertain clients...so they'll be impressed (even if the teams aren't impressive)

By Ian Collins

On Tuesday March 8th, 2011

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photo by Carsten KesslerTaking a night out to heckle the local sports team is a client development staple. Here is Precedent’s guide on how to maximize your time in the bleachers


Toronto Maple Leafs

COST
$35 – $415

CLIENT DEVELOPMENT LOWDOWN
Almost everyone wants Leafs tickets — CEOs will appreciate the offer while those on the lower rungs of management will forever be in your debt. Choose guests carefully.

FOOD
Compare sports injuries over the Holy Mackinaw platter at the Air Canada Club in the ACC. Ask the sommelier to choose the perfect red from the 1,200-bottle wine cellar for your client’s prime rib.
Exclusivity Warning! To dine here on game night you have to be a member of the sold-out club — or be gifted tickets by a friend who is

CONVERSATION STARTER
With media shark Rogers rumoured to be circling the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan’s majority stake in MLSE, there could soon be plenty of work for lawyers.


Toronto Raptors

COST
30 – $1,200

CLIENT DEVELOPMENT LOWDOWN
With a hip factor that the Leafs lack, a Raps game is perfect for younger clients. Plus, great seats can generally be had for less than hockey tickets, and are easier to come by, so it’s a solid option for last-minute plans.

FOOD
For luxe global tapas try Origin at King and Church. Foodie clients will appreciate a counter seat to take in the creations of Claudio Aprile in the open kitchen. Otherwise choose a table in the bustling restaurant, an ideal spot to loudly talk of your recent professional successes.

CONVERSATION STARTER
The full impact of “The Decision” (LeBron James’s move from Cleveland to Miami to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh) remains to be seen. In Raptorland the real decision is whether to give president and GM Bryan Colangelo another year to turn the team around.


Toronto Blue Jays

COST
$11 – $75

CLIENT DEVELOPMENT LOWDOWN
No other major league sport gives you this much time to talk in a relaxed setting. If, however, your client turns out to be close-mouthed, it’ll be a long night staring up at the CN Tower.

FOOD
Skip the street meat in favour of the best burger in town. Kobe beef patties, a resident mixologist and all the fixings (from grilled onions to foie gras) can be had at this upscale iteration of the city’s burger craze — m:brgr at King and Spadina.

CONVERSATION STARTER
Stuck in a division with the free-spending Yankees and Red Sox, the Jays seem destined to finish at the back of the pack no matter what they do. Their suffering offers a genius segue into empathizing with a small business that is up against more affluent competitors.


Toronto FC

COST
$26 – $90

CLIENT DEVELOPMENT LOWDOWN
Take an existing relationship to the next level with the rabid experience of a TFC game on a sunny weekend at BMO Field.

FOOD
Liberty Village is your best bet. The Brazen Head is where soccer fanatics flock for pre- and postgame festivities and upscale Irish pub fare. For a more sophisticated start, Mildred’s Temple Kitchen offers an ultramodern dining room and a stellar brunch.

CONVERSATION STARTER
It’s been an off-season of discontent for TFC fans restless over poor results and soaring ticket prices. New coach Aron Winter needs to make it a winning year if Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment is going to demonstrate it’s as committed to the fans as to the bottom line.


Toronto Argonauts

COST
$20 – $150

CLIENT DEVELOPMENT LOWDOWN
Sure, most Torontonians turn up their noses at the CFL’s lunch pail vibe, but the league is on the rise — except in Toronto. Have a client in town from Regina? Keep ’em smiling as they watch their Green and White smash the home team.

FOOD
Tailgating is sadly illegal in Toronto, so instead try Bar Wellington for beers and the signature 16-ounce burger on the chill patio: surely a nicer experience than knocking back cold ones in the bed of a truck.

CONVERSATION STARTER
Spark a debate with a hardcore CFL fan over the possibility of an NFL team in the Rogers Centre.


Woodbine racetrack

COST
No cover charge (but every dollar is fair game)

CLIENT DEVELOPMENT LOWDOWN
Taking in the ponies can be a fun, memorable experience; just duck the slots and keep the gambling in check. Round up more than 20 of your favourite horsey people and book one of Woodbine’s personal betting guides as your host.

FOOD
Hit the buffet. With dishes like seafood vol-au-vent, salmon cakes and channa masala, this ain’t no hotel smorgasbord. A view of the track and the ability to wager from every table means this could be the only time you’ve ever made money at dinner.

CONVERSATION STARTER
Just finished celebrating your winning triactor only to find you really have a losing superfecta? Woodbine’s website has betting tutorials and a glossary to help you avoid embarrassing moments and lead another client into your stable.


Photo by Carsten Kessler