ESPN 102.5 The Game is celebrating the anniversary of the rally created by the “Our Team Nashville” group, which pushed to keep the Nashville Predators in the Music City. Braden & Fitz and 3D spent time talking with Predators Radio Network’s Jeremy K. Gover and movement organizer Butch Spyridon Wednesday morning about one of the most important times in Preds history.
Gover, who was on Braden & Fitz, came to local fame by creating a legendary sign that was held up by then Gov. Phil Bredesen and his wife, Andrea. The sign became a talisman of the movement, and Gover discussed how he created it.
“I had a blank foam-core board,” Gover said. “So I just grabbed that and grabbed some sharpies and just started making a sign with the first thing that came to my head. Didn’t have any time for revisions or anything, no editing process at all. It said, ‘Keep your damn hands off our team.’”
— Megan Barry (@MayorMeganBarry) April 20, 2016
Spyridon said on 3D that the sign and rally was a statement of the passion and heart that Nashville has, and that it may not have been a successful rally if the city and the fans did not have that kind of mentality.
“Pretty crazy to think about the movement from then to now,” Spyridon said. “It makes you feel really good about the kind of city we have. ‘Hell no, you’re not gonna take our team.’ I’m a big believer that we, Nashville, can do whatever we want… If we want something, we’re the kind of town that can make something happen.”
Jim Balsillie, the Canadian businessman who wanted to move the team to Hamilton, Ontario, made a crucial error that helped keep the team in Nashville, according to Gover. Balsillie stated his intent on local radio, but did so before he actually owned the team, which enraged fans and didn’t sit well with members of the NHL.
“My belief is that it upset a lot of people,” Gover said. “Not only in Nashville, which caused this big uproar, but on top of that, at the league level. The league said, ‘You can’t move a team before you own it. We haven’t even approved you owning it yet.’ That ruffled some feathers, and the next thing you know there’s a rally and then the team stays in [Nashville].”
The rally saw fans call for the team to stay, but people like Spyridon were crucial to ensuring that there just wasn’t a visible voice of the fans, but that people were actually buying season tickets and showing that the fans were going to support the team.
“I was less worried about the [rally],” Spyridon said. “And more worried about, ‘Can we sell a meaningful number of tickets?’ If you think about it, it all came down to money and season tickets sales… I know everyone of us called everyone we knew and shamed them into buying tickets. I think the number was 700 season tickets we sold? That’s not a bad day.”
Gover concluded his interview talking about what the Predators have brought to the city, stating that many people are here in Nashville and are employed thanks to the team staying in the Music City.
“Think of all the people,” Gover said. “In the media for example, that are here and have a job only because the [Predators] are still here. I’m with the Predators Radio Network, I started in the stands. Ryan Porth, programming director of ESPN 102.5 The Game, started in the stands. Robby Stanley of NHL.com, was 11-years-old sitting in front of me in section 303… All those people started in the stands, and would not have a job where they have a job without the team staying here.”
For the entirety of both interviews, listen here: