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There were several members of the Roughriders Board of Directors on hand as well and like the rest of this, they were in awe of the spectacle.
Once the sunburn wears off, we'll get to work on planning next year's event and it will be expanded significantly to include, perhaps, a pair of Coyotes games along with a Cactus League baseball option, golf package and deals with Glendale hotels.
2 - We're also considering which current or former Roughrider player will generate the hysteria which Chris Gezlaf and Ray Elgaard provided the last two events. As expected, Elgaard was hilarious on the radio with us. Regarding the history of the Roughriders, #81 remarked, "So we all took paycuts to save the franchise from folding. Eventually we won the Grey Cup in 1989. Now we're down here drinking margueritas in Phoenix! What can I say? It's a real good story."
Who should we get next year: Roger Aldag? Bob Poley? Darian Durant perhaps? We're open to any and all suggestions. Having a Rider celebrity on hand took the festivities to another level and the photo opportunities went viral.
I'll tell some of the best stories from Thursday's event in my blog this week on the Roughriders' official website at www.riderville.com.
3 - Westgate Plaza bar owners (next door to the Coyotes' Gila River Arena) reported this year's Riderville event was #3 only behind Super Bowl and the College Football Championship game for events they've hosted in Glendale. Initially I was discouraged because I think the Roughriders should always be #1 but when you step back a minute and consider those are the top two events on the American sporting calendar, it's staggering to think a CFL team could generate that type of revenue in the southern U.S.
4 - Is it any wonder the Coyotes are the MMG's favourite NHL team? They treated us like kings and President & CEO Anthony Leblanc announced on the SportsCage that the Coyotes hope to hold their 2017 training camp in the Brandt Centre and play some preseason games out of Saskatchewan. The idea is for Coyotes camp to be a part of the Regina Pats' 100-year anniversary celebrations in 2017 and since they barely move the needle in Phoenix in September, there's a huge opportunity for them to market themselves in Canada while everyone down there is focused on the NFL's Cardinals and MLB's Diamondbacks.
To the right, Gary is pictured with Coyotes captain Shane Doan who was honoured before Saturday's game against Florida for becoming the franchise's career points leader.
6 - As far as the Saskatchewan Roughriders go, all is not quiet however they haven't been in the headlines for a week or so. The football operations staff is in Edmonton on Monday for the first of four CFL Regional Combines in which players will be tested before staff of all CFL teams. The best players will earn an invite to the main CFL Evaluation Camp in Toronto in a couple weeks. The Riders are also preparing for the upcoming CFL meetings in Toronto which will include a gathering of the Rules Committee.
Riders Assistant V.P. of Football Operations Jeremy O'Day will be on 620 CKRM's Rider Monday in the SportsCage to provide an update on the team's current activities.
7 - New Roughriders Southwestern U.S. scout Vic Poma came up to introduce himself at the conclusion of Thursday's SportsCage in that Glendale sports bar. He has gray curly hair and hobbled around like an old offensive lineman. He was making his way home to Las Vegas and wanted to pop in and meet the Riders radio crew. I, in turn, introduced him to some of the Roughrider Board members who were in attendance. That's what it's all about; meeting face-to-face and building relationships. He seems like a real nice guy, knows his stuff, and is an old pal of Chris Jones.
8 - I knew that somewhere in my travels I'd experience one of my biggest fears in life: being stuck in an elevator. It occurred on Friday at our hotel in North Phoenix and we were trapped in there for about five minutes. (Although it seemed like an hour). My wife was stunned that my first call while trapped in the dungeon was to my colour commentator Carm Carteri, who was chilling in his room. Not surprisingly, Carm's response was, "Ya? Annnd?" Eventually the thing got moving and we got out.
9 - Perhaps appropriately so, the Regina Pats did not issue a news release trumpeting the fact they clinched a playoff spot Saturday night without even playing. The Pats got in when Swift Current beat Medicine Hat to officially eliminate the Tigers. Thanks Broncos! Now the Pats need to help dictate their first round opponent as they can still catch the Moose Jaw Warriors before the regular season is over. However I'm told their most-likely first round opponents are the Brandon Wheat Kings or Lethbridge Hurricanes. The 'Canes might be the more favourable match-up since the Wheaties molly-whopped the Pats 8-1 on Sunday and I can't ever remember Regina beating Brandon in the postseason. It certainly hasn't happened since I came to the team in 1995.
However what a feather in the cap of the new owners, the Queen City Sports & Entertainment Group. They're 2-for-2 in playoff appearances since taking over the team. If memory serves, the old ownership group made the post-season in each of their first three seasons before missing in 1999.
To get a glimpse of the Pats, tune into Shaw or Access this Friday as the Pats host the Moose Jaw Warriors. Jeff Odgers and I will have the call on television throughout Western Canada.
10 - The Leader Post says the University of Regina Rams will officially announce Steve Bryce as their new head coach on Monday. For me, it's quite a full circle situation since Bryce's last season as an offensive lineman with the Rams was in 1991 when I began calling the team's games on CKRM. While Bryce isn't a big name, this is certainly a hire than I can get behind. However he faces a gargantuan task and as a TSN reporter texted on Saturday after this blog broke the story, "Does he even have a chance (at success)?" We're going to find out shortly.
THAT'S ALL! SEE YOU IN THE CAGE