On Thursday night I did something I never thought I'd never do: I watched a game from the press box at Ivor Wynne Stadium.
The story of how I got there isn't really all that interesting, but I'll tell it anyway. I figured after over two years of writing somewhat coherent drivel about the Tiger-Cats, I would take the chance and ask if I could get press credentials. So I sent an e-mail to Scott McNaughton, director of communications for the team, and he agreed to meet with me to discuss the matter. We met on the first day of training camp at McMaster and after a little chat he told me that watching a game from the press box was something the team was willing to let me do. That game ended up being this past Thursday's contest against Calgary.
I headed down to the stadium, grabbed my press pass and headed up to the press box. I will admit that I felt a little out of my element when I first got up there. It felt a lot like being the new kid in school. Everyone else kind of knew one another (or at least that's how it felt to me, being the new kid) and here I was the dork with the backpack just trying not to bump into anyone and get a wedgie.
So I sat in my assigned seat and watched the players warm up. I was just sitting there watching warmups when Drew Edwards, who I met and chatted with at training camp, stopped by to chat with me. It was mostly small talk and Ti-Cats talk, but it was nice to not be sitting in silence anymore, even if just for a few minutes.
That's the one huge differences I noticed from sitting in the stands to sitting in the press box. It is definitely more of a workplace than I imagined. I knew that there wasn't going to be hooting and hollering, but there also isn't a whole lot of talking amongst the writers. Or at least I didn't notice any, but I was pretty focused on the game. The vibe is definitely different and you learn very quickly that you are not sitting with fans, but professionals paid to be there. It took a little getting used to.
As far as during the game goes, there is an announcer who gives you the blow-by-blow of what happens on the field. I did not expect that. I don't know why, and after it happened I realized how much sense it makes, but it was still something I wasn't anticipating. They also have the TSN feed shown on a couple of TV screens, which again was something I didn't expect but probably should have.
One of the hardest things about sitting up there as a fan is not cheering. I guess I was lucky because there wasn't a whole lot to cheer about, but I had to stop myself on a few of occasions (the two Chevon Walker touchdowns and the drop by Sam Giguère on the bomb from Henry Burris, for example) from shouting when something big happened.
The thing that captured my imagination the most was the view from the press box. It is absolutely amazing. I have sat in a lot of places at Ivor Wynne, and this was the best view I have ever had. You can see everything.
Once the game ended, I quietly packed up my things and went home. It was definitely a different experience, but one that I would gladly do again, even if just to brag about it to friends and family.
So thank you to the Tiger-Cats and especially to Scott for allowing me to take in a game from the press box. It was an experience I will never forget.