11 October 2009

Red Convert

After years of strident resistance, I relented today and finally wore Sedona Red to the ballpark. I know what you're saying. "Matt, why?" "How could you?" and "Goddam traitor!" As awkward as it sounds, it felt comfortable - good even - I was at one with fellow fans.

The ballpark, of course, was University of Phoenix Stadium and vermillion was donned in support of our football Cardinals. This was my first NFL game in half a dozen years, although I'd witnessed a couple high school championships at this venue. You can find out about the game here. My impressions after the jump.

The celebratory 'jumper' (pictured) is CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who won the game with this last minute INT and TD return. We're not quite in the picture, but the first row gent in the white shirt was three butts to our left. So, we had fun-tastic seats, right on the rail of the infamous Red Zone. The atmosphere there was surprisingly mellow. People hooted and hollered, made noise when Houston was backed up in our end, yet I dont recall hearing a single profanity all day. It's different in the playoffs or when established teams visit, but that was a big surprise.

At one point, the cheerleaders were practically in our laps. Which was nice. Seriously, I could've petted one on the head repeatedly, if I was inclined, stroking her magnificent mane of auburn curls...the way she likes me to, before....well, you know, either before we got down to it, or before I channel Lenny from "Of Mice and Men." You decide.

Gosh, this place is comfortable. Thirty and forty years ago, I shivered through high school and college football games in Connecticut. Twenty years ago, my future wife endured her first date with me at the Cards' inaugural contest - a September scorcher against the Cowboys in 1988. God, it was hot. Subsequent games at Sun Devil Stadium were windy, rainy or uncomfortably warm. Today was 70'. No sunburn. No wind. The air never got stale, despite all those people and a closed roof. It was really nice.

The roof makes it loud. Louder than most baseball stadiums. The transluscent lid also lets in sufficient natural light, so you almost feel outside. Not quite, but almost. Airier and less gloomy than Chase, certainly.

Chase offers a wider variety of food and U of P prices ran about a buck higher per item. They roasted almonds and pecans, which were sublime, but I didnt see much else of interest. A brat, smothered in peppers and onions, and a decent sized Coke, ran me $10.50.

Got frisked and my ticket was examined at four separate checkpoints - not surprising given the NFL's self important, officious nature. Still, I was impressed with how friendly most employees were. Concession people acted like they really wanted your business. Ticket checkers smiled, while invariably instructing me to "Have a good time" or "Enjoy the game." A front office suit even struck up a conversation with me in one of the stairwells. There was just an air of good natured excitement and anticipation, that I cant honestly say I feel very often at Chase Field.

It's only one game, but Derrick Hall's crew has got nothing on these guys. I cant say which organization has the better all around staff, but one can assuredly ascertain which "enjoys" more undeserved hype. It's doubtful any staff could deliver on Hall's cheesy superlatives, and enthusiastic Cardinals staffers dont have to, paving the way for them to consistently exceed customer expectations.

Oh, they also hand you a free program when you walk in the door, there were no shrieking ad blitzes during the game, and the home team won a thriller. Fans hung on every play. Imagine that.


Russell said...

I have to say that I've always found the D-Backs staff very friendly. Of course I grew up watching "soccer" in England so any sporting event where I don't get urinated on is a plus for me!

Diamondhacks said...

Derrick Hall's brandishing a "random" customer service survey with your name on it! Pls email him immediately.

I'd say service has improved over the last year or two, after several subpar experiences with security, ushers and sales people, between 2005-07.

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