Arizona Cardinals president Michael Bidwill joined Arizona Sports 620’s Doug and Wolf on Thursday, the final day of the team’s training camp to discuss, well, training camp, among other things.
For the first time since moving to Arizona in 1988, the Cardinals held their training camp in the Valley, at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, ditching their usual Flagstaff-based camp.
According to Bidwill, Cardinals fans, players, coaches and staffers are all pleased with the decision.
“It was a very good experience out there, in terms of training camp,” Bidwill said.
“The number one thing for us with training camp is getting the players ready to play, and I think we’ve really made a lot of progress on the field as a football team.
“The number two thing is fan engagement and I think we did a good job there as well.”
The owner went on to praise the site, University of Phoenix Stadium.
“Glendale didn’t have much to do with it, but the University of Phoenix Stadium did very well,” Bidwill said. “We think that the stadium performed great.
“The field is a little bit worn in the center, but in terms of the fans, we though that the fans loved it.”
As for the Cardinals players themselves, Bidwill believes the luxuries afforded by the facility were key.
In Flagstaff, at Northern Arizona University, Cardinals players had to sleep in dormitories, sometimes on cots, for the stay. The practice field was known for getting worn down and the locker rooms were far from the standards of those at University of Phoenix Stadium.
“I’ve spoken to several players and the feedback has been very good,” Bidwill said.
“Having locker rooms that are professional and training rooms and equipment rooms… Having a lot of space like we do at this stadium gives us a great ability.”
Beyond comfort, familiarity also weighed into the players’ reviews of the camp site.
“They’re excited about getting more comfortable inside that stadium,” Bidwill said. “You know, getting more feel for where the ball is placed and where the different sightlines inside the stadium that might be a distraction in the background when you’re looking for a ball.”
Although the owner was pleased with a Glendale-based camp, he’s still undecided on whether or not they’ll return next year, saying he’d do an official review in the weeks to come.
Wherever it is, however, Bidwill said he is looking to increase the experience for the fan next summer, hoping to increase access and experiences.
“Our fans want more access, more insider information and experiences, and we’ll look to create more of those as we go forward.”