Michael Bidwill has spent the offseason working to improve the Cardinals’ on-field experience for fans.
Last week Bidwill heard how he can improve the rest of their experience inside University of Phoenix Stadium.
During an hour-long Cardinals Fan Forum at the team’s practice facility in Tempe, Bidwill, along with Executive Vice President Ron Minegar and General Manager Steve Keim met with about 125 season-ticket holders to discuss their likes, dislikes and ideas about the in-game experience. All topics were fair game during the forum, which was moderated by Dr. Frank Luntz.
The topics ranged from recent personnel decisions to concession food to security lines on game day. Many of the ideas and topics raised were in line with the NFL’s initiative to improve the in-game experience. For the last few years, the NFL has held a public conversation about improving the game day atmosphere so fans want to attend games instead of watching them from the comfort of their couches.
“We have to find ways not only to bring fans into stadium, but make it a better experience for them,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said at the NFL’s owners meetings at the Arizona Biltmore in March. “That’s technology, security, making sure we take care of parking, concessions and the other things fans expect. We did spend a lot of time on this.”
One of the hot topics last week was keeping tickets in the hands of Cardinals fans on the secondary market. It’s an issue that’s hit every team, Goodell has said. Sometimes a season-ticket holder simply can’t attend a game. But if they sell their tickets, Cardinals fans don’t want them being bought by an opposing fan.
“I want to get to 2008 inside that stadium where nobody dare give up their tickets or sell their tickets,” said Bidwill, referring to the team’s Super Bowl season. “I feel when this team is winning it brings this community together. We need more reasons to make this a community.”
Bidwill also talked about expanding perks for season-ticket holders to include discounts and concession benefits.
Minegar said the Cardinals have been working on the stadium’s wireless capacity to improve phone service and have plans to install Wi-Fi throughout the building.
But there was one area that fans felt the most passionate about throughout the forum – the bathrooms. On numerous occasions, fans requested a TV or the live radio feed from the game to be fed into the bathroom, so they wouldn’t miss any action when they need a break.
Some fans requested the roof be open more, while others warned the panel that sitting in the upper levels of the stadium can be too hot with the rook open. The policy on opening the roof is quite specific, Bidwill pointed out.
If the temperature reaches 75 degrees or cooler, or if there is cloud cover, the roof will be open. If there is inclement weather, the NFL makes the decision. During the playoffs, Goodell decides whether the roof should be open or not.
One new addition to the in-game experience this season will be a mandatory camera in the locker room. However, the NFL will let teams decide what content is shown to fans.
Among the season-ticket holders in attendance was a couple that drove from Albuquerque, N.M. for the event and a woman that used to also drive from New Mexico for games.
In front of the group, the panel announced a slate of potential changes.
Bidwill said he will consider changing the pregame music at the behest of fans and he touched on possibly moving training camp to Glendale. Minegar said the Cardinals will consider keeping the stadium open longer to allow fans to let traffic subside before leaving and the team will bring in a few more outside vendors to the concessions.
In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, one significant change will be a potential ban on large bags that will either be a total ban or will reduce the size of bags allowed in significantly, Bidwill added.
Another area that fans in attendance expressed their opinions loudly on was developing a set of traditions at game, whether that be a fight song or mottos, and the panel invited the fans to come up with ideas.
“I want people to feel more included in their team,” Bidwill said. “I feel when this team is winning it brings this community together. We need more reasons to make (this) a community.”