I just got back from my Association of Luxury Suite Directors (ALSD) conference in Minneapolis. I have to admit, I wasn’t too fired up when I first heard we would be in the Twin Cities, especially since the last 5 years we were in Phoenix, Miami, Dallas, NYC and LA. But we were assured the sports venues would be worth it.
I’m sure you’re wondering, what the heck is ALSD, and why do we need to have a conference? This association includes suite sales and service professionals in the Big 4 leagus (NFL, NBA, MLB & NHL), as well as college, soccer, and other alternative venues. We discuss industry trends, learn from each other what works and what doesn’t, and visit the major sports venues in the cities. I get a lot from the venues, but in some respects I learn more just from talking to my colleagues. Oh yeah, and we have a lot of fun along the way!
Each night we visit a different sports venue for a tour and reception. Usually when you hear reception, you think of boring appetizers and a few cocktails. The ALSD is completely the opposite. The venue’s caterers are showing off what they offer and what they can do, and the cocktails are flowing.
Saturday night we went to Xcel Energy Center, home of the Minnesota Wild. The Wild mascot met us as we got off the bus, and there was a guy on the ice carving a replica of the mascot out of wood. The arena was pretty cool, with a lot of very rustic arcitecture that makes you think you’re actually out in the wild. They had a huge spread of food, including 3 types of mac & cheese, fried walleye nuggets, rice balls, and a lot of small dessert bites. In one of the clubs on the ice level they even had pizza, in case we got more hungry during the tour. This venue is where we found the Corona coozies. I named mine Jose, and Krista named hers Julio…
Sunday night we went to TCF Bank Stadium, home of the Minnesota Golden Gophers and future temporary home of the Minnesota Vikings. On the tour they told us that the locker room is the biggest in college football. Maybe so, but OSU’s blows theirs away in terms of amenities…sorry Gophers. Anyway, onto the food. I picked up what I thought was a crabcake, only to find out it’s a walleye cake. But it was still delicious, and I got 2 more. We also had a couple of really good passed hors d’oeuvres, homemade cole slaw, and “sweaty beef” (inside joke for my CD4L peeps). The facility is beautiful, and they’ve done an amazing job of keeping it looking new.
Monday night we went to Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins. It was like gluttony on steroids. Almost every open space on the premium levels had food, and we made it our mission to try some of everything. We made a wrong turn at the beginning and started at the dessert station, but we weren’t disappointed. They had sweet corn ice cream, root beer floats, and mini creme brulee. They had lots more desserts, but that’s all I tried.
The 3-cheese-risotto was some of the best I’ve ever had and was served out of a large parmesan cheese ring, so of course I had 3 portions. The mushroom and truffle pizza, shrimp & grits, oyster ceviche, and shrimp cocktail were all amazing. The only down side was that I never got around to the one thing I really wanted…burger stuffed with gouda and prime rib. But let’s be honest, did I really need it?? There was probably more that we missed, but by that time we were so full it wouldn’t have mattered. Let’s just say that I was happy my skirt was a little big, because by the end of the tour it definitely wasn’t. The staff that night were so amazingly friendly. They did what I always stress to my staff to do–welcomed everyone at every turn, answered questions, and treated us like we were a part of their family.
The conference ended Tuesday afternoon, so there was no venue tour that night.
All in all, I had a great time. Minneapolis is a pretty cool city, I got to hang out with my CD4L friends, made some new friends, and learned a lot to take back and implement this season and beyond. And I can’t wait until ALSD 2013 in Orlando!