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Posted: Wednesday November 7, 2007 10:32AM; Updated: Wednesday November 7, 2007 10:32AM
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NFL Fan Value Experience
24 Arizona Cardinals
UNIV. OF PHOENIX STADIUM :: Opened 2006 :: Cap.: 65,000

Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
 
TICKETS
Average Price Per Ticket $56.71
Price Range Of Tickets $15-$350
Ticket Availability Games sold out since 2006.
"Home fans still are not rabid enough because of the team's history of failure." "There are few pure Cardinals' fans. A lot of people cheer for the Cardinals, but only if their own team isn't there." Indeed, many feel the Cards' home is "a great place for a visiting team." With the Cardinals in their second season at their own home after spending their first 16 years at Arizona State's Sun Devil Stadium, many feel an "enthusiastic fan base" will "create a real home field experience." But "fans are still a little confused as to what to do at a football game. Most people get irritated if you stand during a big play or make too much noise."
SCORE 5 out of 10
 
FOOD & SOUVENIRS
Hot Dog $3.50
Soda (16 oz.) $3.50
Beer (16 oz.) $6.00
Expected Meal Cost $10-$15
Program $3
Cap $19.99
"We are a few miles from Mexico; at least make an effort to give us some authentic Mexican food," say Cardinals fans of their team. Instead, there are "great sounding places with [uninspired] food." Even the beer selection is "terrible, limited to standard Budweiser-type selections." "If you like margaritas," though, "the little margarita stands serve some good frozen ones." And though the product he has produced on the field has been anything but appetizing, team owner Bill Bidwill's Mr. B's Bowtie BBQ "is actually pretty good food for a stadium."
SCORE 5 out of 10
 
ACCESSIBILITY
Parking $10.00
Given that the stadium was built west of Phoenix in Glendale, the 101 freeway takes fans "practically right up to the parking lot." For the most part, "traffic flows well" into the stadium and one can be on the way home "in 15-20 minutes." The stadium, in the minds of many, "is kind of in the middle of nowhere," requiring a 40-plus minute drive for "a good percentage of the fans." Parking can be a bit of a hassle due to "a lack of parking close to the stadium for those who are not season-ticket holders."
SCORE 5 out of 10
 
TAILGATING
"Being that last year was the first for the Cardinals at the new stadium, there were a lot of rookie tailgates out there, but they are improving." "It's no Kansas City, but there is a good atmosphere, despite temperatures of more than 100 degrees outside the stadium." "A designated tailgating area that is all green grass" helps "cut down on the Arizona heat." A "live band on the 'Great Lawn' for each game is a nice added touch," but "fans in Phoenix just need time to develop their own style of tailgating" for this scene to gain its own flavor.
SCORE 5 out of 10
 
TEAM

Larry Fitzgerald :: John W. McDonough/SI
Record through Week 9 3-5
Players Worth Watching Larry Fitzgerald (WR), Edgerrin James (RB), Anquan Boldin (WR)
SCORE 3 out of 10
 
STADIUM ATMOSPHERE
"The stadium looks like a spaceship in the middle of the desert." "It looks like a barrel cactus." "It looks like aluminum can." "It looks like a space station." Love it or hate it, the Cardinals' year-old, $455 million home at least has fans talking about it, which is a lot better than the general apathy the team has generated. A translucent, retractable dome lets fans "feel outdoors even when it is close up tight against the desert sun." "The natural turf field, which can be rolled into the stadium for games after being watered and given sunlight outside," "is great, practical" and "way cool." Corridors are "enormous," and sight lines "are great." More than a few fans "love that air conditioning." That makes for an interior that "is a bit stale," say a few fans, many of whom also feel the team "almost never opens the roof on the premise that some fans might be bothered." Just as distracting is a "horrible" sound system that "echoes badly," and a giant scoreboard that "is barely utilized and doesn't display much more than the score." For a team starving for an identity, though, its University of Phoenix Stadium evokes descriptions not associated with this franchise: "unique," "fresh" and "modern."
SCORE 9 out of 10
 
NEIGHBORHOOD
"Built in the middle of what used to be cotton-farming land," the stadium is "pretty remote." "There are still farms directly south of the stadium," but "hotels, restaurant and bars" are quickly being built in an effort to make the area "more attractive to out-of-town visitors," an important effort given that the 2008 Super Bowl will be played here. For now, the neighborhood "is a work in progress," with "little more than a hockey arena next door."
SCORE 2 out of 10
 
BOTTOM LINE
Like the iPhone, the University of Phoenix Stadium is a marvel of technology, and though lacking the 'gee whiz' character of the Apple cell phone, the giant new toy the stadium is has been attraction enough for a fan base stuck in a college stadium for almost a decade. But kicking the tires on the NFL's new plaything will grow old soon if the Cardinals don't finally produce a competent team. The fan base may not be the league's most sophisticated, but it will never grow unless it has something to grow with -- other than a shiny new stadium. A stadium this iconic, though, demands a team that won't be consistently overshadowed by the facility. That means a management group whose forward-thinking produced this modern edifice needs to focus its brainpower on creating a roster just as impressive.
FINAL SCORE 34 out of 70
 
 

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