Two people will be sleeping over in a private suite at the Air Canada Centre after a Toronto Maple Leafs game in late January and they won’t be kicked out by security.
It’s all part of an unusual Night At contest by Airbnb and Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) that involves a sleepover in a customized suite overlooking the lower bowl of the rink, tickets to Leafs and Toronto Raptors games and more. The “ultimate sports weekend experience” takes place at the ACC on the weekend of January 23-24.
“I don’t think there’s ever been a sports weekend that’s been assembled like this in the country,” says Aaron Zifkin, country manager for Canada at Airbnb. “We’ve never done anything in combination with two professional sports leagues.”
Previous Night At activations have included nights at Fenway Park in Boston, 9,000 feet in the air and at an Olympic ski jump.
Airbnb’s mission is to give people the feeling “they truly belong anywhere,” says Zifkin, noting other Canadian listings include castles, yurts, tree houses and igloos.
The contest, which closes Dec. 15, is being promoted on social media and has spread through word-of-mouth, Zifkin says. Response has been “incredible” with thousands of people entering, he says.
For a chance to win, entrants need to visit the ACC listing on Airbnb and explain “why you’re the biggest Maple Leafs and Raptors fan and what it would mean to you to stay overnight at the Air Canada Centre.”
The overnight experience is being hosted by Leafs legend Doug Gilmour and includes platinum tickets for a Leafs versus Montreal Canadiens game, a behind-the-scenes tour of the ACC, shopping spree at Real Sports Apparel, access to the player’ amenities, the opportunity to watch the pre-game skate from the penalty box and a personalized player send-off in the Leafs tunnel as the team takes the ice.
Before retiring to the Airbnb suite for the night, the winner and guest will also be able to attend Leafs coach Mike Babcock’s postgame press conference.
The suite is being converted floor to ceiling to “one of the nicest bedrooms I think I’ve seen, despite the fact it’s in the ACC,” Zifkin says.
The Airbnb listing for the suite contains several humorous house rules including: No placing loonies under centre ice, anyone caught cheering for the Habs will answer to Carlton (the Leafs mascot), no pets (Raptors are allowed), anyone who brings up the fact Gilmour played for the Canadiens will be escorted off the premises and homework prior to arriving is to memorize the lyrics to The Good Ol’ Hockey Game.
“My favourite house rule is that you can’t wear your skates on the hardwood floor,” Zifkin says.
After spending the night in the suite, the winner and guest will watch from courtside seats as the Raptors take on the Los Angeles Clippers.
Everything from meals to bathroom facilities at the ACC have not been forgotten. “It will be a first-class experience all the way through.”
Airbnb will also make a $15,000 donation to MLSE Foundation, in support of the MLSE LaunchPad, a 42,000 square foot youth-focused centre in Toronto’s Moss Park neighbourhood.
There are no plans for similar listings in other Canadian NHL cities, Zifkin says.
North Strategic is Airbnb’s public relations AOR in Canada.