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University of Phoenix Stadium

Glendale, AZ

Home of the Arizona Cardinals

3.6

3.5

University of Phoenix Stadium (map it)
One Cardinals Drive
Glendale, AZ 85305


Arizona Cardinals website

University of Phoenix Stadium website

Year Opened: 2006

Capacity: 63,400

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The Cardinals' Nest in the Desert

University of Phoenix Stadium, which opened its doors in August 2006, is home to the NFL’s Cardinals, as well as the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, and many other events throughout the year.  It is easily the most state-of-the-art sports facility in Arizona, and arguably one of the best in the NFL and the country.  The total cost for building the stadium ended up being $455 million. It seats 63,400 for Cardinals regular season games, but can be expanded to 72,200 for playoff games, the Fiesta Bowl, and other huge events.  It has also played host to Super Bowl XLII, and the 2011 BCS National Championship Game (which holds the stadium’s attendance record at 78,603).  Super Bowl XLIX will be played here in 2015.

The stadium, which I think looks like a big spaceship that crash landed in the middle of the desert, is supposed to be in the shape of a barrel cactus, representative of the typical Arizona landscape.  UPS has a retractable roof, which is much needed for the Cardinals.  It also features the first fully retractable field.  On non-game days, the field is moved outside of the stadium so that the natural grass can receive the sunlight it would not get if left inside the stadium.

Even though the Cardinals may not be a top-tier franchise in the NFL, University of Phoenix Stadium is definitely a top-tier NFL stadium.

3.6

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    3

University of Phoenix Stadium has many food options all along the main concourse and the upper concourse. There are vendors on both sidelines, and some in the endzone area as well. "Red Dogs" has the most typical stadium food. Hot dogs are $5 or $6, as well as sodas. You can get a hamburger or chicken tender combo meal, which each come with chips and a small drink for $10.

"Pizzaz" offers Papa John's pizzas for about $6 per serving. And "Gridiron Grill" offers a lot of options for those who are looking for something a little different. They have the same items as "Red Dogs", as well as chicken sandwiches, hamburgers, barbeque beef, and a lot more. All of these items are $8 and up. UPS is a Coca-Cola serving stadium.

The upper concourse has all of the same stuff, along with a barbeque stand that sells all kinds of different brisket and pork sandwiches, all for around $8. The lines for Pizzaz tend to be shorter than the lines for any of the other concession stands.

There are carts set up all around the stadium, offering a wide variety of treats and drinks. In addition to everything that's found at the main concession stands, there are Mexican stands, craft beer, dessert options, and a few other small things. Everything at these stands are in the same price range of $6-$12.

In the south endzone, there is a catering station set up for all fans. It's more of a buffet-style serving, and has more high-end food. It does cost more, but if you're looking for something different than your typical stadium food, this is an area you need to check out.

In the lower level of the south endzone is the Bud Light Game Zone. You can buy tickets to access this area for $30. There's food, drinks, and even pool tables for people that are looking for an alternative to traditional tailgating.

Atmosphere    3

The stadium itself is incredible visually, both inside and out. In the north endzone, there are the two NFC West Division Championship banners (2008 and 2009), and the 2008 NFC Conference Championship banner. Behind those banners is a mural of Cardinals legends. The south endzone is the "Redzone", where there are removable stands because the playing surface moves out that direction so it can get sun during the week. Starting 3 hours and 15 minutes before kickoff, the Bud Light Game Zone is open in this area.

Most fans enter the stadium through gate 3, which is the north entrance. Just outside the stadium is the "Flight Deck", where fans can enjoy some pregame food and drinks without having to enter the stadium. You can also win free prizes throughout the day before the game.

After entering the stadium, you enter on the main concourse. For fans going to the upper concourse, there are escalators and elevators on each side to take you up there. The upper concourse does not allow access to the other side through the south end, so either use the escalator on your side or make sure to use the north endzone walkway on the upper concourse. That upper walkway also has a team shop, and a DJ along with various concession stands for fans walking through there. There are also team shops found throughout both concourses called the "AZone".

The logo at midfield faces the west stands, and the Cardinals bench is on the west sideline. The seats that are closest to the sideline aren't very close to the field of play at all, to allow for NFL camera crews to move stuff around. The north endzone seats are the closest to the playing field. Those seats come right down almost to the goalpost.

The north endzone scoreboard and video board are very small, but the south one is much larger and easier to read and see. This makes sense because the majority of the seats in the stadium face the south endzone. Out of town scores are shown on banner scoreboards in each corner of the stadium throughout the game.

The concourses are very easy to get around. There is a lot of space between the seating area and the concession stands and restrooms. Both sides of the stadium are almost identical with what they offer fans as far as amenities, but when the roof is open, the sun does shine on a huge chunk of the east side for most of the game.

There are tons of suites in University of Phoenix Stadium. The club seating areas cost anywhere between $455 and $185 depending on location. There is also a public Wifi network available in the stadium, but it doesn't work too well. Also, cell phone service cuts in and out from the second you park on a gameday all the way through the game.

Neighborhood    5

University of Phoenix Stadium was the central piece of the City of Glendale's sports arenas project. That expansion of the city included the building of: Jobing.com Arena, Camelback Ranch, and UOP Stadium. They have turned the entire Glendale chunk of the Loop 101 into a booming entertainment district.

Right across the street from the stadium on the west side is Sportsman's Park, where most of the tailgating occurs prior to Cardinals games. There is a stage set up for pregame concerts and entertainment, as well as tons and tons of tents set up by the fans. There's tailgating everywhere though, not just at Sportsman's Park.

Just north of the stadium is Westgate City Center, which offers an enormous amount of dining and shopping choices before and after the game. Some of the food choices include: Margaritaville, McFadden's, Saddle Ranch, Hell's Half Acre, and so much more. On gamedays though, it is much more difficult to get to because all of the parking lots in the area are changed from the regular free parking to pass specific and paid lots for the game and tailgaters.

The closest general public parking lot is located at the Tanger Outlet Mall, which is in between the Loop 101 and Westgate City Center. Here you'll find even more shops and places to eat before and after the game. If you park at the outlet mall, you receive a $10 off coupon for any store, so it sort of balances out the parking cost.

Fans    2

Arizona is full of transplanted fans from all over the country, and this is most apparent at Cardinals games. When you go to a Cardinals game, you may think you're actually at the visiting team's stadium based on the jerseys you see. Sure you'll see Cardinals fans all over Arizona simply because the NFL dominates any other sport right now. I've been to a couple of Cardinals games now in recent years, one against the Lions and one against the Colts. Both times, the stadium was almost half blue and half red as far as jerseys go. Having the crowd split 50/50 makes for an interesting dynamic though since there is always a large group of fans cheering no matter what happens. The Cardinals do enjoy a little bit of a homefield advantage, but not a big one.

Access    4

UOP Stadium is located just east of the Loop 101 Agua Fria Fwy, in between the Bethany Home and Glendale Rd. exits. There are parking lots that require passes that are off of these exits, as well as the ones just north (Northern Ave.) and south (Camelback Rd.). There are electronic signs all along the 101 clearly telling you where to get off for which color pass you have. The signs don't tell you where to go if you don't have a parking pass though.

If you don't have a specific parking pass, the best option is to get off at Glendale and park at the Tanger Outlets. You will want to stay in the right lane when you get on to Glendale to get in this lot, even though the line is really long and slow moving. This parking lot is $10, and there are signs for it once you get on Glendale Ave. There is also a parking garage option near the Renaissance Hotel, but that costs $20. It may be worth it early in the year when it's still hot out, but not when the weather is really nice. It's not much closer to the stadium than the open air lot either, and it's more difficult to get out of.

The security checks are outside of the main entrance gates, but are not close to where they check the tickets. This is good for people without bags because they can skip the bag check and not be delayed by it. It's also nice that they do the bag check this way with the new NFL bag policy, because fans are still somewhat close to their car in case they have to go back. Some parking attendants all along the walk from the parking lots to the stadium also tell people if their bags will be allowed in or not.

The entire concourse is lined along the outside by either concession stands or restrooms, so you are never too far away from either one. And with the concession stands having so many cashiers, the lines for food never get too long. The bathrooms are enormous as well. The interior design of the stadium is very fan friendly. The lower and upper concourses have field views, though they are limited. Both endzones have tons of room where you can just stand and watch the game, and many people take advantage of this.

Return on Investment    3

The Cardinals do not offer any tickets below $30, so it can be pricey to bring the family to see a game. You can find the entire pricing and seating chart here.

Also with food prices inside the stadium being fairly high, game day could cost a small fortune. University of Phoenix Stadium is by far the nicest and most modern venue in Arizona though, so everyone should go at least once. It's worth it to walk around the entire stadium, inside and out, just to see all the bells and whistles.

Extras    5

Going to a Cardinals game is a great experience for any football fan. There's lots of tailgating in all of the surrounding parking lots, including Sportsman's Park on the west side of the stadium. The retractable roof provides comfort for the fans in any weather. In the beginning of the season it's typically closed, but then as it starts to cool down, the Cardinals can choose to make the stadium open air.

The design of the stadium is definitely unique. The open concourse in the endzones is good for fans that choose to stand and watch the games. The exterior design is definitely one that people will remember either good or bad. It also makes it very easy to find, being visible for miles and miles along the 101. The buildup of the surrounding area has been great to see too. The Coyotes were the first to move out to Glendale when Jobing.com opened, and it was the only thing around then. No shopping center, no hotels, just the arena and the freeway. Now, there are the Cardinals, as well as Dodgers and White Sox Spring Training, and all of the restaurants and shops that one can think of. In the fall, the Glendale Desert Dogs play at Camelback Ranch, but do not play on Sundays. So if you're staying in Glendale for a couple of days, it's worth it to check them out, or the Coyotes.

In the upper concourse of the north endzone, you can find the Cardinals Hall of Fame, which has information on all the legends that have been honored by the team. Also, on the wall of the lower concourse in the southeast corner, there's pictures of the stadium as it was being built. Each level of the stadium also has its own theme of Arizona, portrayed in murals. The upper concourse is the sky, honoring the observatories throughout the state. The other levels feature the state's rivers, mountains, canyons and deserts.

The Cardinals have a ring of honor, which features players such as Dan Dierdorf, Ernie Nevers, Aeneas Williams, and of course the late Pat Tillman. Tillman is a legend in Arizona, having played his entire football career in Sun Devil Stadium as a member of Arizona State and the Cardinals. His story is well known to most, leaving the Cardinals to join the Army Rangers after 9/11, and then being killed in action, followed by enormous amounts of controversy and conspiracy surrounding his death. His legacy lives on at University of Phoenix Stadium, as well as the entire Phoenix area. There is a statue in his honor at UPS and Sun Devil Stadium, and the plaza that surrounds the stadium is named Pat Tillman Freedom Plaza. Each spring, the Pat Tillman Foundation puts on Pat's Run, which occurs at Arizona State.

Final Thoughts

You really do have to see this place to believe it. Everything is so spacious, so modern and so clean. It is obvious that fan comfort was a top priority after the many years the franchise spent at Sun Devil Stadium. Every sports fan should make the trip to Glendale in the coming years to see University of Phoenix Stadium. It is a truly one-of-a-kind place. A modern marvel.

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Crowd Reviews

University of Phoenix Stadium

Total Score: 3.86

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 4
  • Neighborhood: 3
  • Fans: 4
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 4

Rising out of the Arizona desert, the University of Phoenix Stadium dwarfs the landscape. The architects who designed the venue describe its unique shape as a representation of a barrel cactus indigenous to the area. From a fan's perspective it more closely resembles a space ship from the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind with its metallic silver facade.

Built in 2006, the University of Phoenix Stadium is home to the National Football League's Arizona Cardinals and the home of the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl for college football. Besides sporting events, the stadium is also home to several conventions and special events.

Located in Glendale, Arizona just west of Phoenix, the University of Phoenix Stadium is easily accessed via the Loop 101 North freeway and sits adjacent to Jobing.Com Arena, home of the National Hockey League's Phoenix Coyotes. The football and hockey venues anchor the area and are clearly seen just east of the freeway.

Tailgating is allowed and encouraged. Fans are requested to take one parking spot for each vehicle with tents up to 10'x10' allowed. Charcoal grills are not permitted in the stadium parking facilities although gas or propane can be used.

Besides the parking facilities, the stadium also features expansive lawn areas that are suitable for tailgating. The largest of these is Sportsman's Park and is home to the largest tailgating party on property. Before every game tailgaters at the park compete to be named tailgater of the game.

The University of Phoenix Stadium has a capacity of 63,400 permanent seats in a football configuration. This seating capacity can be expanded to 72,200 with the addition of temporary seats in the end zones and upper decks.

There are several unique features at the University of Phoenix Stadium. The venue itself has a retractable roof opening over the playing surface. The outside panels of the stadium are made up of alternating silver metal and glass. The metal reflects the desert sun and reduces cooling requirements. The glass panels allow sunlight into the stadium and give the fans a scenic view of the surrounding area.

The playing surface is natural grass. The grass and soil are four feet deep and sit in a rectangular box. The box sits atop 76 railroad wheels allowing the entire playing surface to roll along railroad tracks. This allows the grass to be moved outside. The turf tray weighs an impressive 18.9 million pounds and is moved 741 feet via electrical motors at 1/8 miles per hour.

Sight lines are extremely good from all angles and the seats have adequate leg room to accommodate larger fans. The seats face directly down to the playing surface meaning there may be times when you have to turn left or right to see the action. The seats have adequate space left and right to allow this without invading the personal space of the fan next to you.

Overall the University of Phoenix Stadium is an engineering marvel and a great place to enjoy a game. It is not just the local fans who rave about this facility. Recently Sports Illustrated rated this stadium as the best new venue of the 2000 decade. Whether it is football, soccer, basketball, or any of the other countless events staged within its walls you are sure to enjoy your experience at the University of Phoenix Stadium.

Love this place

Total Score: 4.29

  • Food & Beverage: 5
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 3
  • Fans: 5
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 3

Went to a Cardinals game last December and I love this place. We were half way up in the upper deck at the goal line but still had a great view of the game.
Not a bad drive from Scottsdale but traffic was a nightmare after the game.
Usuall food choices a "jumbo" hot dog looked pretty average to me.but the beer sold in the stands was great.

The Biggest Cactus in the Desert

Total Score: 3.57

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 3
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 2
  • Access: 3
  • RoI: 3
  • Extras: 5

University of Phoenix Stadium, which opened its doors in August 2006, is home to the NFL’s Cardinals, as well as the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, and many other events throughout the year. It is easily the most state-of-the-art sports facility in Arizona, and arguably one of the best in the NFL and the country. The total cost for building the stadium ended up being 455 million dollars. It seats 63,400 for Cardinals regular season games, but can be expanded to 72,200 for playoff games, the Fiesta Bowl, and other huge events. It has also played host to Super Bowl XLII, and the 2011 BCS National Championship Game (which holds the stadium’s attendance record at 78,603). Super Bowl XLIX will be played here in 2015.

The stadium, which I think looks like a big spaceship that crash landed in the middle of the desert, is supposed to be in the shape of a barrel cactus, representative of the typical Arizona landscape. UPS has a retractable roof, which was much needed for the Cardinals. It also features the first fully retractable field. On non-game days, the field is moved outside of the stadium so that the natural grass can receive the sunlight it would not get if left inside the stadium.

Even though the Cardinals may not be a top-tier team in the NFL, University of Phoenix Stadium is definitely a top-tier NFL stadium.

House of Cards

Total Score: 3.43

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 3
  • Neighborhood: 4
  • Fans: 2
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 4

Food trucks outside the stadium offer some good alternatives to the usual, such as fresh grilled cheese sandwiches and big hamburgers. Inside, walk around and read about the history of the team and the building, as well as some all-time greats, as there are displays on both levels.

Staff are very friendly, and quick to escort you out if you are not on your best behaviour. Park for free at Kellis High School and take a shuttle bus (or walk). Tickets always available at the box office, but there is a legal scalping area where you can negotiate with many sellers.

The place is big and there isn't much atmosphere compared to some cozier indoor venues, but it is still worth visiting to see one of the country's most impressive architectural achievements.

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