The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports Columns

April 3, 2013

Rueda column: Roller derby a surprise success in debut

When I first started writing part time for The Free Press more than 30 years ago, I had hoped that it might lead to a full-time job. A few years later it did and I began my tenure as the No. 2 sportswriter in town.

I knew we’d be covering a lot of  high school and college sports and I was fine with that. Never in my wildest dreams, however, did I see myself covering roller derby.

But there I was, Saturday night, in the press box at the Verizon Civic Center watching the Mankato Area Derby Girls make their home debut in front of more than 1,600 fans. While many  of the people in attendance, including this sports reporter, had to familiarize themselves with the rules of roller derby on the fly, it was obvious most of the spectators were having a good time.

Slamra Sue (Tamra Sundboom, Mankato) is the media liason for the MAD Girls and she admits just about everyone was caught off guard by the number of spectators.  She knew they’d have more than the 400 people they needed to break even on the arena rental, but not nearly as many as showed up.

“The girls on the team had their own advance tickets they had to sell and we were up to about 600 early last week,” Sundboom said. “When I checked with the Verizon Center on Tuesday or Wednesday we were at about 700 total advance sales.”

What nobody expected was the amount of walk-up sales the night of the event. By Saturday evening, more than 1,000 advance tickets had been sold and then 600 more bought tickets at the gate.

“The people at Verizon told us it’s the most walk-up sales for any event they’ve had at the Civic Center,” Sundboom said. “They were caught a little off guard by it and that’s why the ticket lines were so long. When they announced they had to delay the start of the bout by 10 minutes because there were still people in line, all the girls on the team just got pumped.”

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