BEST ERECTION Phoenix 2006 - Cardinals Stadium
There's an old saying about teams like the Arizona Cardinals, who for 18 years played in cavernous Sun Devil Stadium in front of thousands of fans disguised as empty seats: The stadium was vast, but for the most part, the team on the field was only half-vast. But hold on to your seats ? things may be looking up for the local NFL team. With the recent opening of Cardinals Stadium, the new $455 million, 63,400-capacity venue on the west side of town, the future appears to be much brighter. The stadium is state-of-the-art, having recently been named by Business Week as one of the top 10 sports facilities in the world. It's the only stadium in North America to have both a retractable roof and a retractable playing field. The field itself is an engineering marvel: Weighing 18.9 million pounds, it sits in a tray resting on 13 rail tracks and 542 steel wheel assemblies. Since the field is made of natural grass, it remains outside the stadium to get sunlight until the night before a game. Then the wheels start turning (at 11.5 feet per minute) to travel the 741 feet the field will move until it's in position, a process that takes 65 minutes. The roof panels are translucent, which allows plenty of light into the stadium, even when the roof is closed. And perhaps the best thing about the new stadium, as far as Cardinals fans are concerned: It's air-conditioned. Of course, with a new facility also comes a certain amount of economic impact, and Cardinals Stadium is ready for its national close-up. Beginning January 1, the stadium becomes the new home of the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, to be followed the very next week by the first-ever Bowl Championship Series title game. Some other key dates: The Rolling Stones will play a concert here this November 8, and Super Bowl XLII will be held at the stadium on February 3, 2008. With a new home, as well as a few key personnel acquisitions in the off-season, there does seem to be cause for optimism for this year's Cardinals. For the first time since the team relocated to Arizona from St. Louis, every home game is sold out. That means that every single Cardinals game this season will be broadcast on local television. For, like, free! Maybe soon there will be a new saying in these parts: Today, Glendale ? tomorrow, the world!