Hello Friends and Family,

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Your Tax Dollars at Work

In November 2000, the voters of Maricopa County (Phoenix metro area) barely approved a proposition to use taxpayer dollars to fund a new stadium ($266,600,000 public plus $104,000,000 from the football team for a total of $370,600,000) for the Arizona Cardinals football team plus money for Cactus League (baseball spring training) facilities and youth recreational facilities. This month marked the official opening of the stadium — and therefore this weekend, they held an open house where the general public could tour the facility — totally free of charge (unless you wanted $6 hot dogs, $5 soft drinks or $6.50 beer). Since it is unlikely that I will pay $25 (corner nosebleed sections) to $325 (mid-level club seats with private entrance) to actually see a Cardinals game, I decided to take this opportunity to tour the facility.

The first thing you should know about this unique design, is that the exterior is supposed to resemble a barrel cactus with a sidewinder on the roof. I think it looks like a giant flying saucer. In fact, last April I was hiking in South Mountain Park and from a high vantage point I noticed a silver disk on the horizon some 25 miles away. My initial reaction was that H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds had begun in fact. After a moment's reflection, I realized it was just the Cardinals stadium — but I admit to being quite surprised that I could see it from that distance (we experienced an exceptionally clear day, I guess).

Besides the exterior design there are two other elements that make this stadium unique. The first is the retractable roof which consists of two panels covered with a translucent "Bird-Air" fabric that allows light onto the field even when the roof is closed. During the warmer months (and we have plenty of those), the roof will be closed and interior air-conditioned.

The second element is the removable grass field. The playing surface is on a huge tray with wheels underneath. Normally, the field will be left outside in the sunshine where it will be watered, fertilized, weeded, cut and striped. This avoids the problem of low light levels preventing a healthy turf for football or soccer. This also permits the use of the stadium for concerts, trade shows and other non-athletic events.

Apparently, this is the only stadium in the world with this combination of design elements.

The stadium interior is pretty standard stuff — except it feels a little strange to be in an air conditioned building. I'm used to outdoor stadiums like Candlestick Park (or whatever it's called these days) in San Francisco. Open air, sun streaming onto the field, wind blowing you almost out of your seat. You don't get any of that at the new Cardinals stadium.

And there was a trade show taking place on the floor of the stadium today — the theme was "Men's Luxury Toys". See for yourself...

All in all, quite an interesting open house. I'm glad I went — don't know when, if ever, I'll be back.

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com