Roughriders fans hold tailgate party at NHL game in Arizona
Plan for a group photo on ice, after the game
The Arizona Coyotes play the Anaheim Ducks later today and fans of the Saskatchewan Roughriders were planning a tailgate party Thursday afternoon.
The event shows that Riderville never sleeps and the club's fan base is not limited to Saskatchewan or even to Canada.
Duane Leicht is the mayor Kipling, Sask., and was in Phoenix for the party.
"It's kind of a gathering of the snowbirds and some of the other fans who spend a few weeks down here to get away from the cold," Leicht said Thursday. "They just try to have a semi-formal function a few years ago and it's progressed."
Leicht said people will gather at a restaurant close to the Glendale, Arizona, arena where the Coyotes play.
"They're expecting something in excess of 200 Rider fans and then we'll all go to the arena and sit in the same section and enjoy the hockey game," he explained.
"It's huge, it's crazy," Leicht said. "What other sports team is there that has a gathering of fans in another country at another completely different sport?"
Leicht said he was even able to bring his custom-made team jersey, inspired by the armour worn in olden times, that he fashioned from 75,000 metal rings.
He said airport security simply looked at the chainmail jersey as any other item in a carry on bag.
"They said it may require additional screening but they just looked at it and said OK, away you go," Leicht said.
He said he expected many people at the tailgate party would be wearing Saskatchewan colours.
There were also plans for everyone to gather on the ice, after the hockey game, for a group photo.
"They're committed," Leicht said of the dedication shown by fans of the team, adding with a chuckle, "maybe they should be. Myself included."
He said everyone simply has an "overwhelming" love of the team.