Since it opened in time for the 2006 season, University of Phoenix Stadium has proven to be a valuable advantage for the Arizona Cardinals.
All 101 games played there have been sold out, and most have seen seats filled with fans wearing red.
That wasn’t the case last Thursday, however, as Minnesota Vikings fans had a pretty solid presence in the stadium as the Cardinals hosted the Vikings on national television.
It wasn’t quite reminiscent of the Sun Devil Stadium days, when fans of the Dallas Cowboys, Oakland Raiders or, well, pretty much any team, would outnumber Cardinals fans, but it was a stronger visiting presence than Arizona fans have become accustomed to.
And it was certainly more of a presence than Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, who has guided the Cardinals to an 18-4 home record since the beginning of the 2013 season, was hoping to see and hear. That a good number of tickets were sold by Cardinals fans to Vikings fans for one of the biggest games of the season disappointed the coach.
“It’s going to take a little more time to stop seeing waves and just complete sections of the visiting team where you normally see Cardinal fans,” Arians told Bickley and Marotta on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “I don’t give a [expletive] how much you get for you tickets, it ain’t worth it.”
Arians’ pleas, noble as they may be, are likely to fall on deaf ears. Or, at least, they may be coming too late, at least when it comes to Arizona’s Week 16 tilt with the Green Bay.
Lambeau West has a pretty terrible ring to it, right?
We’ll have to see what the crowd for that game looks like. Packers fans travel well, and like Minnesota followers, it stands to reason many would be in Arizona this time of year anyway because of the weather. Add in the possibility that the game could very well mean more for the Packers than the Cardinals and you have a recipe for the Red Sea being contaminated by green and gold.
It would not really be all that surprising.
If Arians was dismayed by what he saw against Minnesota, chances are his frustration will reach an entirely new level when the Packers come to town. Such is life for a football team in a transient market and, as Arians pointed out, the presence of Cardinals fans at the team’s road games is a sign that the team’s fan base is very strong and growing stronger.
“Oh man, our fan base — especially the young fan base — man, they’re getting there,” Arians said. “We’re traveling good, they’re loud, they’re all dressed up, they look fantastic.
“And I always see them at the game; I don’t see anybody sitting in their seats.”