I think this discussion merits being brought back (again) to the OP's specific situation. From what I could gather his/her particular interest is in building up enough links/traffic/ranks etc. in anticipation of an upcoming event i.e. fixed deadline. Most of the wisdom shared in this thread has to do with ongoing day-to-day operation of sites with no particular deadline.
I would think that OP may actually see some benefit in building the backlink much quicker than the (normally cautious) WebmasterWorld common wisdom allows to have the ranks peak at the time of the event. The following repercussions (if occur after the event) may not even matter as much.
Think about a World Cup or an Olympics - centered site. You have approx. month or two of activity and then another four years(!) to fix whatever problems your aggressive tactics might have created.
I personally don't have a site like that and for me this discussion is purely theoretical in this sense but it looks like an interesting case study, so I'll be watching it closely.