Sunday, February 1, 2009

long shot

The Arizona Cardinals are in the Super Bowl today. Eight months ago, only the most diehard fans would have predicted it. I lived in Phoenix for a number of years. The Cardinals were the comfortable punchline to many a joke, with everyone sharing a knowing laugh. We were accustomed to our team being the laughingstock of pro football. But I think I know why the Cardinals have gained the confidence to get to the Super Bowl. It's their stadium in Phoenix.

My son worked at the Cardinals stadium. Due to a huge pot of money, the stadium actually has a huge sign on it that proclaims it to be the "University of Phoenix Stadium", which is just stupid. There is no connection between the Cardinals and UoP except that pot of money spent to put their name on the front of the stadium.

The stadium itself is pretty fancy. There are 63,400 permanent stadium seats, but more can be added to reach a maximum of 72,200. If you lined those seats up side by side, you would have 18 miles of seats. Wow! My son's job was to work with a team of men to transform the stadium from one venue type to another. So, on one day the stadium was configured to accomodate a football game. Then presto, chango and you have a huge conference space that offers 160,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit space.

The coolest thing though, is the retractable grass field. It is the first of its kind. The tray that slides in and out of the stadium weighs 18.9 million pounds. It sits outside the stadium most of the time, to take advantage of the air and sun. When it is in motion, it travels at a speed of 11.5 feet per minute. Some people ask what the point of the moving field is. Why don't they just use the retractable roof? The stadium designers claim that having the retractable field saves $50,000,000 in costs over a retractable roof.

The roof is interesting too, though. It's made out of a "Bird-Air" fabric that gives an open feeling even when the roof is closed. It is beautiful. The outside of the stadium looks like a giant barrel cactus. I've driven by it many times on my way home from the airport on the 101.

Anyway, I think having this very cool stadium makes the players proud. And that makes them better players. And that is part of why they are in the Super Bowl this year. What would really be cool is if they could be in the next Super Bowl that is scheduled to take place in their own stadium.

Given this blog entry, I suppose I have clearly communicated for whom I am rooting today!

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