Ronda Pearson’s epic rant was the highlight of Wednesday’s City Council meeting in Glendale, where they voted to end a 15-year arena lease agreement with the Arizona Coyotes.
In case you missed it, the die-hard Coyotes fan and longtime season-ticket holder ripped into Glendale mayor Jerry Weiers for his lack of support for the hockey club.
Sportsnet reached out to Pearson, a 40-year-old nurse, Thursday morning and got her side of the story during a 20-minute phone interview.
SPORTSNET: Why did you decide to show up at council last night?
Pearson: I’ve been very active when it comes to knowing about this team and keeping them in Arizona. There were lots of people who put time, energy, and effort into drafting a lease agreement. Whether you agree or not, it was a legal binding contract. It was surprising the Mayor said they didn’t agree on the lease. I felt like I’ve seen him at many many games. Who pays for those tickets? I pay for every single one. I don’t understand how a Mayor is so worried about the finances of his city and then I want to know know if he’s getting a free ride? I’ve heard from lots of different people — either on Facebook, Twitter, or fan message boards. Those messages all voiced that same thing. The Mayor says he’s supportive, but is he paying for his tickets?
Look at the Super Bowl. Why did the NFL move all their extra-curricular events to Scottsdale? It could’ve been a huge revenue thing for the City of Glendale. I want to know why! He made a public stink about not getting Super Bowl tickets. I happen to be from New England. I would’ve killed for Super Bowl tickets. It would’ve been $2,000 each for me and my dad. And (then) he didn’t want to shell out the money to go, so he makes a donation to charity, but did he do that because of perception?
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What has the reaction been like after Wednesday night?
It’s very overwhelming. My Twitter has not stopped beeping. A lot of support. I haven’t seen anyone or anything negative. Lots of people said I said what they were feeling. And that means a lot. The meeting was brought up at the last minute. I was at work, went home to get my jersey, and got there as soon as I could. I was late and that’s why I was one of the last people to talk.
How long have you been a Coyotes fan? What got you into hockey?
I was born and raised a (Boston) Bruins fan. I would go to hockey games when I was younger. Always loved the sport. I play hockey, too. I play a couple of times a week. Always been really into hockey. When we got a team here (in Arizona), I went to the arena and watched games and just became more and more of a Coyotes fan. It’s funny. I used to be die-hard Bruins fan and now this is my team. Love them or hate them, I support them.
Are you surprised Coyotes fans are going through this stuff again?
In a way, I’m not surprised. I’m always skeptical and always think (the City) is looking to get out of the lease agreement. I’m curious how they’re going to afford a lawsuit. How is the city going to afford that? What happens if they lose? What happens to the city then and who’s going to pay that debt? How can they afford (a lawsuit) if they’re so considered with finance? I don’t understand that. I don’t like it all. It’s like me saying I’m unhappy with my costs and I’m going to get out of my mortgage? They should have to abide by their agreements. It’s not too fair to do this at the last minute. Hopefully it goes away before it goes to court.
How do you think this plays out now?
I know that the ownership group is dedicated (to keeping the team in Arizona). They’re going to file a suit. I think the City will lose. Then, the City will create more financial difficulties and I’m worried. I don’t live there. I live in Phoenix, but it’s all going to trickle down. We’re like a family. It’s like a brother running into financial issues and you will probably be supportive and it will all trickle down throughout the state. I have friends in Glendale and I worry about them. I know people are considering moving out of there. I hope they realize this is a big mistake and hope they decide that it doesn’t happen.
Do you think the team could relocate?
(Anthony) LeBlanc and the rest are dedicated to keep the team in Arizona. Our ownership group made a deal with Glendale. The arena (we have now) is beautiful. Westgate (Entertainment District) is amazing. What happens to all the mom-and-pop businesess if the team leaves? They’re all going to close down. Then, no one has any reason to go to Glendale. I doubt we’ll get a Super Bowl here in the future. The Cardinals have what? Eight games a year? I think the team will be here. I believe in the owners. I believe in them and have faith.
How has the fan base reacted to the ongoing support from Commissioner Bettman?
Its an old saying that Arizona is the only place where we boo (Wayne) Gretzky and cheer for Gary Bettman. No matter your personal feelings about the guy, we’re eternally grateful. How would you not want the team here? He’s been nothing but supportive… I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and shaking his hand. It was an honour. I hope this works out before it gets to the courts. I hope and pray for the City of Glendale.
Who are some of your favourite Coyotes players?
Shane Doan, the guy is the epitome of leadership. Because I’m a season-ticket holder, I’ve gotten the priviledge to meet some of the players. I’ve yet to meet someone who I didn’t like. (Doan) is the face of the franchise. I’m very involved in the (local) hockey community and I know a lot of people and a bunch of little kids all look up to him. He’s a perfect role model. I’m really excited to see the younger guys tear it up. Anthony Duclair is another player I’m really excited to see. I go to the development camps and the rookie camps to see who’s coming up here. We haven’t been good for a while but we’re all excited.
Max Domi is another exciting one. You also got a high draft pick coming up.
I’ve watched Domi with London. He seems like another natural leader. I really hope we don’t take another defenceman. I don’t want (Noah) Hanifin. (Mitch) Marner is an interesting one. Strome, I worry if he’s a product of (Connor) McDavid. I want a forward. Can you believe Edmonton got McDavid? That crushed me. Outside of Edmonton, no one wanted that.