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University of Phoenix Stadium (map it)
One Cardinals Drive
Glendale, AZ 85305
Year Opened: 2006
Official Review by Alex Shoemaker, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The University of Phoenix Stadium, used as the home for the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals and site of the Fiesta Bowl, opened in August of 2006 to seat 63,400 but can expand to seat 73,000. The stadium features a retractable roof, much needed for the hot desert of Phoenix.
The stadium uses natural grass that grows in a retractable tray that can extend outside the stadium to ensure maximum exposure from the sun. But what really sets this stadium apart is its incredible design and clean look. With bright red and blue colored corners completing its sleek silver interior, University of Phoenix Stadium is a marvel of architectural design.
The stadium is also host to other sporting events including soccer matches and more.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
This will really depend on when you choose to visit the stadium. For the Fiesta Bowl, you'll get your standard popcorn, hot dog and soda for $4-$6, depending on what size you want. They also have churros and some more traditional cuisine of the region.
Prices are expensive like all stadiums, which is to be expected. They also have booths with Subway if you're a picky eater and want to go with something familiar. The best food is in the surrounding restaurants. I'll go into further detail about this in the "Neighborhood" section.
This stadium is a sight to behold. Photos don't do it justice. It feels so big, but all the seats are so close to the field. I attended the 2011 BCS National Championship between the Oregon Ducks and Auburn Tigers and was amazed how our 400 level seats were so good.
I returned two years later for the 2013 BCS Fiesta Bowl and was surprised that I was still blown away how cool the stadium is. Fans from both teams show up, decked out, and excited from the long month of waiting.
I've never been to a Cardinals game, but I imagine that the fans are passionate as well. Any time or event you attend there, it will be an incredible atmosphere.
Glendale is probably a ghost town outside of the Fiesta Bowl and the eight days of Cardinals games. There are a few awesome restaurants right next to the stadium that almost certainly make 95% of their profits on nine days out of the year.
My favorite place there was Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville. I went there in 2011 and liked it so much I went back two years later. It's 0.4 miles from the stadium and in the heart of the local eatery. The place has parrots and a complete tropical theme. There's a balcony to go up and eat on. The sell typical American food; cheeseburgers, sirloin, chicken as well as quesadillas, tacos and more. It's also available for minors.
Other restaurants in the same vicinity are Saddle Ranch Chop House, McFadden's Restaurant and more. There will be a variety to choose from.
This one touches on the atmosphere section. If you go to the Fiesta Bowl, you'll see an incredible spectrum of fanhood. The same is probably true for Arizona Cardinals games, but I can't vouch for that.
If you're a college football fan and want to someday attend a bowl game, Phoenix is a good place to go. I just don't recommend it being your first. It will make other stadiums pale in comparison.
There's a lot of parking, but Glendale is in the middle of nowhere. It's a pretty substantial drive from downtown Phoenix and not a place I'd recommend staying at if you want to go to the Fiesta Bowl.
Getting out of the stadium, in both of my experiences, was pretty smooth and fast. It would be nice if it was closer to Phoenix.
I highly recommend you go see this stadium. If not even for the event, just to see this mastery of architectural design. You can try a Cardinals regular season or preseason game, Fiesta Bowl or another event.
All seats are pretty great so you don't have to put in a lot of money for a middle seat. I also recommend you go early to walk around and take in the environment.
Security there is incredibly thorough. Fans were "wanded" before entering. Some might find that intrusive, but I think the little extra inspection is encouraging.
There were plenty of restrooms and food booths. Lines were not that bad.
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