Will Red Sea reignite as fans sell out Cardinals’ home opener?

Sep 16, 2021, 6:05 PM | Updated: 6:20 pm
The Arizona Cardinals run onto the field for the NFL game against the New England Patriots at the U...
The Arizona Cardinals run onto the field for the NFL game against the New England Patriots at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 11, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

State Farm Stadium was eerily quiet in 2020, when a pandemic interrupted a streak of 144 consecutive sellouts.

A new era begins Sunday.

As the Cardinals look to legitimize their annihilation of the Titans in Week 1, they will be fueled by the return of their fan base in full. They will remember what it’s like to play football downhill, surfing the currents of electricity provided by your presence.

Athletes aren’t just competitors. They are performers. They crave an audience as well as a stage. By the end of Sunday’s game against the Vikings, they will realize how much they’ve missed us.

Well, most of us.

The raw power of this synergy was on display during the NBA playoffs, when the Suns opened their doors to a new arena, harnessing raucous house parties and unleashing a secret weapon on all visiting teams. The rabid nature and full engagement of those crowds became a major part of the story. Suns fans awed and inspired those in uniform, earning big cheers in return. They impacted outcomes and raised the bar for all professional teams in Arizona, maybe even the NBA.

Will Cardinals fans take the cue and do the same?

The atmosphere in Glendale has grown stale in recent years. That’s because the Cardinals haven’t posted a winning record since the 2015 season. At times, they’ve been boring and bad, a lethal combination at the box office. Along the way, many ticketholders have been incentivized to sell their seats to infidels, to fans of the opposing team.

Those turning profits and making pragmatic business decisions were viewed as a different kind of sellout. They were arming hostile takeovers, creating something of a rift in the Red Sea.

The Cardinals once enjoyed a hefty home-field advantage at State Farm Stadium, where the decibel levels rivaled or surpassed even the most rabid NFL stadiums. That is no longer a given, and no longer a daunting obstacle for incoming opponents.

Hopefully, that changes in the coming months. The 2021 Cardinals have significant star power. They arguably feature the best pass rusher, the best wide receiver, the best center, the best safety and one of the biggest personalities in football. Meanwhile, Kyler Murray has outrageous talent, and MVP chants could soon be part of the stadium’s soundtrack, just like it was at Footprint Center with Chris Paul and Devin Booker.

After a dominant performance in Week 1, it suddenly feels like something special might be brewing. General manager Steve Keim kept his promise about delivering a greater level of physicality. Kliff Kingsbury carved himself a slice of credibility against Tennessee. And diehard Cardinals fans were surely motivated and galvanized by what we all experienced during the NBA playoffs, namely our communal love-in with the Suns.

I’m guessing they don’t appreciate hearing how the Suns have recaptured the region’s heart, regaining their throne in the process.

Cardinals fans are a proud bunch, and their official response will come Sunday. The game will be sold out, representing our largest public gathering for a sporting event in a long time. The atmosphere should be cathartic, chaotic and compelling.

After all, it has been a while since we’ve gathered as a standing army, rallying around a really good football team.

Reach Bickley at dbickley@arizonasports.com. Listen to Bickley & Marotta weekdays from 6 a.m. – 10 a.m. on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

Dan Bickley

Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) looks to pass as Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. (...
Dan Bickley

Suns’ season starts off uneasy, just like Deandre Ayton’s contract situation

Welcome to a new year in Phoenix, when Deandre Ayton’s contract status is part of every narrative, one that’s not going away anytime soon.
2 days ago
Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz sits on the bench during the first half of a preseason NFL ...
Dan Bickley

Zach Ertz trade is proof the Cardinals are all in for 2021

Zach Ertz has pedigree. He has a Super Bowl ring. His presence is a declaration. He is proof the Cardinals are all in to win in 2021.
7 days ago
Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt (99) celebrates a defensive stop against the San Francisc...
Dan Bickley

Cardinals earn forgettable win over 49ers to stay atop NFC West

Victories last forever. Even when they’re instantly forgettable. The Cardinals played one of those games on Sunday.
12 days ago
Head coach Kliff Kingsbury of the Arizona Cardinals looks on during the second quarter in the game ...
Dan Bickley

Kingsbury’s turnaround with Cardinals starting to silence some doubters

Six weeks ago, Kliff Kingsbury’s seat was the hottest in professional football. Now he is among the early favorites to win Coach of the Year.
13 days ago
Owner Robert Sarver stands with the Western Conference Championship trophy after the Suns beat the ...
Dan Bickley

Sarver’s past makes stalled Deandre Ayton contract talks alarming

The Suns are playing a dangerous game. They are perilously close to contaminating elite team chemistry. They might kill the vibe entirely.
17 days ago
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray, left, avoids the rush from Los Angeles Rams outside lin...
Dan Bickley

Cardinals leave Los Angeles with something bigger than a win

Dan Bickley says the Arizona Cardinals left Los Angeles with a big ‘L’ on Sunday: legitimacy.
18 days ago
Will Red Sea reignite as fans sell out Cardinals’ home opener?