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  • Richard Smith

State Farm Stadium - Arizona Cardinals

Photos by Richard Smith, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00

State Farm Stadium One Cardinals Drive Glendale, AZ 85305

Year Opened: 2006 Capacity: 63,400


House of the Cards

The Cardinals are far older than most people realize. Although they have only been the Arizona Cardinals since 1988, the organization has been around since 1898. From their beginnings in Chicago as the Morgan Athletic Club and the Racine Street Cardinals, they have played in Chicago and then St. Louis before making it to the desert of Phoenix, Arizona.

From 1988 to 2005 the Cardinals played at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, on the campus of Arizona State University.

This new facility opened in Glendale in 2006. Originally called Cardinal Stadium, it has also been known as University of Phoenix Stadium before the current State Farm sponsorship. The stadium cost $455 million and includes a retractable roof.

The field is maintained outside of the stadium and then brought into the venue by way of a giant moveable tray. The end zone area on the side of the facility where the field tray rolls in and out of the facility can be expanded to accommodate an additional tier of seating that slopes down from the scoreboard level.

The stadium is also home to the annual Fiesta Bowl game. The first Fiesta Bowl held here is very famous on its own. The Boise State Broncos won by defeating the Oklahoma Sooners 43–42 in overtime. It has been called one of the greatest college football games ever played, due to the combination of an underdog team, trick plays, comebacks by each team, and a thrilling overtime finish.

Food & Beverage 4

There are a large amount of the usual standard kind of food stands all over the stadium with names such as Mr. B’s, Desert Breeze, 1st Round Draft, Gridiron Grill, Red Dog, Rings, and things, Sportsman’s Café, TD Café, Touchdown Tortillas and Wings of Honor. The problem is that with all of these names, and extensive menus, the variety between the stands is basically non-existent. The prices are in the middle range for NFL-type stadiums.

There are none of the usual name-brand franchises you often see at other stadiums. There is also a lack of southwestern and/or Mexican items found all around the venue, and this is quite a shame.

Coca-Cola is the soft drink of choice here. Many beer and liquor options exist.

Atmosphere 4

State Farm is known for its distinctive architectural style. The rounded metal panels that make up the exterior of the stadium can be seen from quite a ways away. The actual inspiration for its shape is the barrel cactus that is commonly found growing in the region. The stadium’s roof can be opened or closed in a 12-minute span.

There are four levels to the stadium.

The Red Zone is a massive area where there is an impressive video screen, a fun walkway bridge, and a lowered section near where the field tray is placed into the stadium.

There is a Cardinals’ Ring of Honor along the front of the Club level displaying the best players of the team’s long history.

The game atmosphere is very good with the usual NFL activities keeping the fans involved. When the roof is closed the stadium can get very loud.

Neighborhood 4

The Glendale neighborhood around the stadium is growing along with the stadium. The Glendale Sports and Entertainment District is located across from the stadium. Besides many hotels and restaurants, it is the home to the Desert Diamond Arena which was formerly known as the Gila River Arena. Until earlier in 2022, the Arizona Coyotes of the NHL called this arena home (they temporarily play at the Arizona State hockey arena). The Yard House is a great option for food or drinks in this area.

There is a fairly new Top Golf facility close to the stadium. Also coming soon is the Crystal Lagoons Island Resort featuring a first-of-its-kind Mattel Adventure Park.

Glendale is a few miles west of Phoenix, so the many options of this ever-growing metropolitan area are available to the fans.

Fans 3

The Cardinal fans are known as the Red Sea, and they have a pretty good tailgate scene at the Great Lawn across from the stadium.

Once inside the stadium the great scene outside seems to break down a bit. Inside you notice that the fans are not the most engaged in the league. It is partly because so many people who live in Arizona come from other parts of the country and may already have teams they support. One day they are Cardinals fans but when the home team comes to town, “boom” they are fans of the opponent. It has gotten better, especially when the Cardinals have shown life.

Access 4

State Farm Stadium is located just off AZ Loop Highway 101. It will be fairly easy to find parking around the stadium, but you should plan on purchasing that ahead of time. There are over 25,000 spaces around the area. For early season games, where the Arizona temperatures are likely to soar, one needs to be very aware of where you are going as too much heat exposure could be a bad idea.

The stadium has six entrances and your best option will be marked on your ticket.

Return on Investment 4

We found that generally Arizona Cardinal games are priced better than other NFL venues, especially on the secondary market. You may find tickets for around $50 to start. It is the NFL, so there are still many very expensive tickets and options if you choose to go that route.

We found parking as cheap as $10 on the secondary market, but even with normal prices ranging from $30 and up, it is not the worst value comparably.

Extras 5

The Pat Tillman Plaza is a great place that the stadium uses to honor the memory of the former Cardinal who lost his life serving in Afghanistan.

The Roof is an extra that identifies the stadium so well. One look and you know what stadium you are at.

The roll-in turf system is such a creative way to ensure a great field for game days.

The Cardinals try really hard to display the extensive history of this franchise. Besides the Ring of Honor, there are areas around the main concourse displaying things that have happened in the team’s past.

The Great Lawn, although not in the stadium itself, is a great place to gather and tailgate before games. Even if you are not a traditional tailgater you will find food, entertainment, and more in this great spot.

Final Thoughts

State Farm Stadium is a distinctive venue that offers fans a great sporting experience. The fact that it offers a cool place to watch games away from the sometimes oppressive heat of the desert is just one more win for this venue.

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