When the pigskin isn’t flying, Arizona Cardinals Stadium plays host to an impressive lineup of outside events.
By Tiffany M. Obergfoll
Valley sports fans share their anticipation as Cardinals Stadium draws nearer to opening day this summer—an opening day that will offer a glimpse of what’s to come, as the state-of-the-art facility will host the annual Tostitos Bowl and the first of many super bowls in 2008.
Long ago outgrowing their devilish college stadium, the NFL team finally comes into its own on Aug. 12 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The move even helped the Cards sell out of season tickets for the 2006-2007 season—an impressive feat for a team that holds more low attendance records than Super Bowl appearances.
But the stadium is more than the steel embodiment of a fan’s dream. The uniqueness of its design establishes it as one of the most efficient and versatile structures in the history of sports complexes. Already famous for its appearance on the Discovery Channel’s “Extreme Engineering,” the stadium’s 12-million-pound rolling function permits the natural grass field uninhibited access to the Arizona sun without the high cost associated with completely removing the roof. The design also eliminates humidity problems other facilities face while attempting to sun their fields indoors. Removing the Bermuda hybrid turf when it isn’t being trampled by 22 sets of cleats also allows it to heal better in its natural environment—the grass is, indeed, greener on the other side.
In addition to the agricultural benefits resulting from the hour-long field exodus, the stadium’s interior is entirely transformed by the absence of its playing field. Teeming with 160,000 square feet of open, climate-controlled convention space uninhibited by columns or other impediments, the field-less stadium interior is fully geared with an electrical grid and ready for large-scale events. Global Spectrum, the facility’s management company, has booked everything from motocross events to food shows and women’s expos to maximize non-football revenue.
Working under contract with the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority, Global Spectrum promotes and markets the multipurpose facility in accordance with Title 5 of the Arizona Revised Statutes, which requires the involvement of a third-party company. The Philadelphia-based firm also committed to finance the development of numerous spaces within the stadium.
Scott Norton, director of sales and marketing for the company, manages the building from an operational standpoint, “It’s cool and clean,” he says. “We have trade and consumer shows, private and public events, corporate and social functions, auctions—even weddings and proms.”
The stadium’s VIP Club rooms offer 39,000-square-foot lounge areas ideal for corporate and social functions, and the South-End Stadium Bridge consists of 12,500 square feet of open space overlooking the stadium floor. “We offer an unmatched setting,” Norton explains. “We don’t have a ballroom to hold a super-swank wedding, but we’re unique, especially for sports-minded people”—particularly those who do not mind an occasional Budweiser advertisement accompanying team insignia throughout the building.
Norton, who has acted as Global Spectrum’s director of sales and marketing since March of 2005, is realistic about the facility’s appeal. “We’re not competing with the Marriott and the Phoenician,” he points out, shifting focus toward the unexpected and off-the-beaten-path appeal of Cardinals Stadium. Public tours are just one of the bonuses groups can opt for, and Global Spectrum’s large parent company, Comcast-Spectator, has many connections “to help book non-traditional, non-sports events.”
Of course, Glendale is quickly establishing itself as the metropolitan sports hub of the Valley, but the city’s newest megastructure demonstrates how innovation and efficient design allows both sports and non-sports events to flourish under one gigantic roof.
Arizona Business Magazine Aug/Sept 2006