Fan fleecing at Arizona Cardinals game

I used to be a pretty avid Cardinals and overall sports fan, but over the years of player strikes, listening to over-paid athletes whine and poor performance by my favorite teams, I lost interest. I am now a fair-weathered or band wagon fan, one who temporarily jumps aboard when the local team is doing well. Sports is no longer a game of skill, performance, endurance, loyalty or sportsmanship, it’s 100% entertainment. For me, I can think of 100s of more affordable and enjoyable ways to entertain myself. That said, if free tickets are available and I am able to spend some time with a good friend, I can be persuaded to attend.

Arizona Cardinals stadium in Glendale by

After sixteen trips with one more to go this year, I had a few weeks in my home-base of Phoenix, Arizona to get caught up on content and catch up with a few friends.  One of my oldest and dearest friends from high school invited me to go to an Arizona Cardinals game with he and his father. My buddy’s dad has been a Cards season-ticket holder since the Cardinals moved from Saint Louis to Phoenix back in 1988.

The Arizona Cardinals’ home for many years was shared with the Arizona State University Sun Devils, that was until a brand new, state-of-the-art facility was completed in Glendale in 2006. Just two years later the stadium hosted the 2008 Super Bowl to huge fanfare.  I had never attended a Cardinal game in the new stadium, and I was surprised by how long it had been…however it didn’t take long for me to be reminded why.

University of Phoenix stadium by

I met my buddy and his father a few miles from the Arizona Cardinals stadium where I parked my vehicle and hopped in their car because they had a parking pass near the facility. We had an hour to get parked and to our seats, unfortunately, it wasn’t nearly enough time.  Since I had not been to a game in a very long time, I was excited to see the opening ceremonies, but that would not happen. Even with a parking pass near the stadium, the time it takes to park is simply ridiculous. After a decade, you’d think operational personnel would know how to best funnel traffic in-and-out of the stadium, but no! One huge flaw I saw was the need to stop traffic for pedestrians. For f’sake, build a pedestrian bridge!

Once we got parked, we had 10 minutes to get to our seats. We ended up having to wait about 20 minutes just to get through a security check point. Then, we had to wait to scan our tickets and enter the stadium. We missed the opening kick-off by at least ten minutes. On the bright side, our tickets were exceptional! We were 3 rows back from the 1st balcony at about the 45 yard line. I had offered to pay for the ticket, thinking it might be around $60 or so. Thankfully, my buddy’s father declined my offer, as I later looked at the price on the ticket and it was $160! “WTF,” I thought.

Mike and Jeff Sutherland at Cards game

It was a beautiful fall day in the Valley of the Sun, maybe 75 and not a cloud in the sky. If you’re not familiar, the Cardinal stadium has a retractable roof, with a retractable field (to protect it from other events and to get sun on the natural turf). When the NFL season starts, it’s very hot in the Phoenix area, so fans and players alike fully appreciate the air conditioned environment. This time of year however, it’s simply perfect to watch the game with the roof open. Unfortunately, I learned, the Cardinals never open the roof in an attempt to keep it as loud as possible in the stadium. Apparently, some think that this helps motivate the players. Need I remind anyone that these are very, very highly paid professional athletes—if they need noise to motivate them, they should not be playing a professional sport. It is their job to perform, and they are paid handsomely to do so.

Between the fan noise and the insane sound system, you will likely suffer from hearing loss if you didn’t bring ear plugs like we thankfully did. If the roof were open, the noise would be much more acceptable, not to mention a more enjoyable fan experience.

Arizona Cardinals field during a game by

After getting comfortable in our seats we settled down into the excitement of the game. The Cardinals performed well in the first part of the game. I then went to purchase drinks and snacks for my buddy and his father…it was the least I could do since they covered the cost of my ticket. I was looking around for something appetizing to eat, but all I saw was junk food! Have Cards management not received the memo, many people want higher quality food these days, rather than the carb-ridden pretzels and hot dogs. I was so blown away by the lack of food choices. I have been to other professional sporting events around the country and many have wonderful food choices. Take for example the Seattle Mariner’s facility, they have everything anyone could want, from sushi to gourmet burgers.

I ordered a hot dog, some nachos (which were only tortilla chips and processed warm cheese), peanuts and a few drinks and it cost me nearly as much as what I thought a ticket to the game should cost. How on earth can anyone justify $7 for a handful of tortilla chips and cheese wiz? Or $10 for a beer? I can buy a 12 pack at the store on sale for $10. Or get this, they won’t allow you to bring water into the facility. Just like at the airport, they make you dump it out, then charge $5 for a bottle that costs maybe $.30 cents. This my friends, is called fleecing of the fan!

Sporting events are now for the rich, not the fan!

I’d love to hear your thoughts about professional sports or attending a game in your hometown. Please leave a comment below.

Mike Shubic

Mike Shubic is a seasoned road trip travel video blogger, traversing the byways of the world looking for those hidden gems of the road. From unique destinations, unexpected discoveries, creative cuisine, intriguing inns to exciting attractions…the road is his page. The experiences are his ink. And every 300 miles, a new chapter begins. Whether you live vicariously or by example, Mike will do the exploring so you can have an adventure.