The light bulb went on 2017: How about a Lights Out Game?
From that idea, a tradition fit for an electrician was born.
The Lights Out concept will be renewed with much fanfare on Friday night, when the Saskatchewan Roughriders oppose the Edmonton Elks (7:30 p.m., Mosaic Stadium).
The pre-game and halftime shows will include what is billed as an “electronic visual extravaganza” — one that is presented by NexGen Energy.
“The power is in the darkness,” noted Seth Strankman, the Roughriders’ Manager, Game Entertainment and Events.
The stadium’s already impressive LED illumination will be complemented by lighting fixtures that have been installed for the event.
Strankman and game-day operations stalwart Bill Wright have immersed themselves in extensive preparations that have taken place in collaboration with Ruggieri Lighting & Staging Ltd., and associates of Regina-based pop/hip-hop star Tesher.
Tesher will perform as part of a 14-minute, eye-popping halftime spectacle. The pre-game portion, culminating in “Bring ’Em Out” and the introduction of the Roughriders’ players, will consume 80 intense seconds.
“It’s kind of like a rock concert, to be honest,” Strankman said.
Such an undertaking was unthinkable at historic Mosaic Stadium, where it took several minutes to turn the lights on and off — unless, of course, the lights went out without notice.
The state-of-the-art new facility, which officially opened in 2017, was a game-changer.
“We’re able to do this due to a combination of the later kickoff and the stadium’s LED field-of-play lights,” Strankman said. “You can turn the lights on and off like you flip a switch in your own house.”
That is the easy part.
The planning? That’s when it becomes intricate.
Dating back several weeks, Strankman conceptualized the program — an elaborate process in itself — before execution became the emphasis.
Once the music was selected, meetings were held with the audio/visual provider to determine the nature and extent of the lighting fixtures that are required.
Tesher and his team were then incorporated into the discussions, with the result being a scroll-like script that is planned to the nanosecond and precisely rolled out with the aid of elaborate in-stadium technology.
“You kind of have to remind yourself that there’s also a football game on and it’s not just this, because so much work goes into this,” Strankman said with a chuckle.
At halftime, Tesher will be joined on-stage by local dancers. The 620 CKRM Rider Cheer Team and Rider Flo Dance Crew will also be involved in the halftime proceedings.
“There will be props, drones, all the lighting, and everything,” Strankman said.
Some of the props will be worn by the fans. The first 7,000 spectators to enter the stadium will receive a free pair of Light-Up Glasses, which are to be worn during the designated times of darkness.
“We had to install a flat watch battery on each side of the glasses, so the assembly included 14,000 batteries,” Strankman said. “Thankfully, we had a huge team of volunteers who helped out.”
The Roughriders/Elks game will be preceded by Coors Light Party in the Park. Gates open at 4:30 p.m., at Confederation Park.
The pre-game program will include a DJ battle (between DJ Tolley T and DJ Slimjim) and a fan-friendly, large-scale, five-on-five giant pong tournament.
At the north end of the park, Roughriders legends Jeff Fairholm and Alan Ford will sign autographs, beginning at 6 p.m.
The various events will create a buzz leading up to the game, as will the Lights Out display shortly before the opening kickoff.
“It’s neat to see the lights all drop and to see the stands full of green and white,” Head Coach Craig Dickenson said. “I think the guys like it.
“To me, it signifies a throwback to the Friday Night Lights — the high school football that we all grew up playing, where you’d play at night and you’d come out under the bright lights.
“I think the guys are going to enjoy it. I’ve heard it’s quite the event and I’m looking forward to seeing it.”