The Arizona Cardinals have a new training camp practice home, and it’s a very familiar place: University of Phoenix Stadium.
The team has held their training camp activities at Northern Arizona University ever since the team moved to Arizona back in 1988. The two sides were unable to come to an agreement to have camp in Flagstaff, Ariz., for another year, so the Cardinals were in a bit of limbo, as they “searched” for a new home for camp.
Even though it wasn’t a foregone conclusion that the Cardinals would hold camp down in the Valley, setting up their camp base in Glendale, Ariz., or in Tempe, Ariz., made the most sense in the long run, being that the core Cardinal fan base is located down in the Phoenix Metro area.
“Not all those people can afford to take the time off, or drive up and spend the night in Flagstaff over the last several years,” team president Michael Bidwill said. “We expect this is going to be more accessible for more fans to come out, enjoy the stadium, it’s free.”
Bidwill said the team intended to hold its training camp practices at University of Phoenix Stadium all along.
The big issue the Cardinals had with NAU was the quality of the facilities that they offered the team. Bidwill flat out said that they were “substandard.”
“I think fans need to understand that we tried to make the best decision competitively for the team,” Bidwill said. “We were paying big rent up there, and they just didn’t want to cooperate with us anymore.”
“It was a few people at NAU that made the decision easy for us,” Bidwill added.
If you’re wondering how the field that’s currently inside University of Phoenix Stadium will handle this added usage, head coach Bruce Arians says the team’s planning on having a 50-yard long AstroTurf field installed, where they can do all their sled work and drill work on.
“I’m anxious to have training camp in this stadium,” Arians said. “With this many people every day, so we have that kind of excitement every day.”
All the I’s haven’t been dotted, nor all the T’s crossed with regards to camp. Everything revolving around the Stadium and the public practices are nailed down. It’s everything else surrounding camp that needs to be taken care of, such as where the players and staff will be staying during camp and other logistics.
Those are things that will be worked out in time. The fact is that Cardinal fans in the Valley will be seeing a lot more of their team in the next few months leading up to the preseason and regular season.
Bidwill promises that training camp will be lots of fun for the fans, and access to the players will be the same as it’s ever been.
“20 of the 32 teams are using their home facilities for training camp, it’s the trend of the NFL,” Bidwill said. “This I think is going to give us a lot more advantages.”