Nov 29, 2022 - Sports
Glendale LVII

Glendale LVII: The battle that moved the Cards from Tempe

State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona

Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

In 75 days, Glendale will welcome thousands of football fans as it hosts the Super Bowl for the third time.

Yes, but: How the Cardinals' stadium ended up in the West Valley is the story of a long, complicated and expensive battle of the Phoenix suburbs.

Why it matters: Between hotel and restaurant taxes, NFL stadiums generate significant revenue for their cities during the regular season. Add a Super Bowl and you're talking serious cash.

  • Economist Sean Snaith told MarketWatch that the Super Bowl typically generates between $300 million and $500 million for the host region. And while all Valley cities will benefit, the one with the stadium certainly has an edge.

Flashback: In 2000, Maricopa County voters approved a tax on hotels and car rentals to finance a stadium for the Cardinals, which had been playing at ASU's Sun Devil Stadium since arriving in Arizona in 1988.

  • For two years, Valley cities tried to woo the team with proposals.

What could have been: Avondale, Tempe, Mesa and the Gila River Indian Community each bid on the stadium.

  • A site in northwest Mesa was the front-runner until a group of residents collected enough signatures to force a referendum on whether the city should move forward with the stadium. The proposal was rejected.
  • "We just don't want this kind of thing in Mesa. If we wanted that, we would live in Tempe or Phoenix," resident Gary Fuchs told ESPN in 2002.
  • The team eventually committed to Glendale, which was eager to welcome them next to the hockey arena it was building.

The intrigue: While most of the stadium funding came from the tourism tax and the Cardinals, Glendale originally promised $36 million in infrastructure improvements and 11,000 parking spots near the stadium.

  • But the city, which was hit hard by the 2008 recession, quickly dipped on the $36 million and never delivered on the parking, The Arizona Republic reported.
  • The Cardinals and Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority sued the city in 2012. In 2016 they reached a settlement with Glendale which agreed to pay $17 million and to construct new parking lots.

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