Ducks in the Desert: The Stadium

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GLENDALE, Ariz. — The University of Phoenix Stadium is a landmark that sticks out of the Valley of the Sun’s skyline. It’s a giant silver bubble, visible from any one of the area’s mountain peaks.

“[It’s] a new-age stadium with all the amenities,” said Scott Norton, the stadium’s marketing director.

Built in 2006, the stadium is definitely not in need of a facelift, but it did get a makeover this week.

“The stadium undergoes a major conversion in terms of signage and branding as it relates to the Fiesta Bowl,” Norton said. “Obviously our NFL tenant, the Arizona Cardinals, have a lot of Cardinals branding in the building. So some of that gets changed out to reflect the college atmosphere of the Fiesta Bowl.”

Two days before the game, the stadium is full of Fiesta Bowl posters, including two big signs over each end zone. Signage changes are just the start of the process, though; crews also have to install all the end-zone seating. That process can’t begin until the field is set.

“It’s an 18 million pound field tray,” explained Norton. “It rolls in and out on 13 railroad tracks on 76 one-horsepower motors. The key to that is it’s a natural grass field. It sits outside and suns itself the majority of the time, then when we need it for an event like the Fiesta Bowl or Cardinals game or soccer, we roll it in, paint the field and we’re good to go.”

Painting the field is how crews spent Tuesday, going over every line to make sure Oregon, K. State and Tostitos jump off the turf. The high-tech amentities stretch from the movable floor all the way to the contractable ceiling. Because temperatures outside the stadium are expected to drop by Thursday evening’s kickoff, crews will close the roof.

Norton, though, expects plenty of heat on the field: “We’re looking forward to a great game.”

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