Since arriving to the Valley in 1988, the Cardinals have never truly had a place they could call “home.” But in 2006 everything changed as the Cardinals opened the doors to the state-of-the-art University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. Finally the Cardinals had a place to call home. With a brand-new stadium the next task for the Cardinals Football Club was to fill the seats with enthusiastic fans. As fans anticipated the 2006 season the excitement began to circulate throughout the Valley. During draft weekend the team sold 1,500 new season tickets. Within a short time, University of Phoenix Stadium was completely sold out for the 2006 season.
The first preseason contest of 2006 was special as University of Phoenix Stadium opened its doors for the first time to the public on Saturday, August 12 as they played host to the defending Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers. The inaugural game not only featured an impressive 21-13 Cardinals victory, but also a special halftime ceremony introducing the Ring of Honor. Eight individuals were honored including original owner Charles W. Bidwill.
On Sunday, September 10th the Cardinals hosted their first regular season opener in eighteen seasons against division opponent San Francisco. Prior to kickoff Cardinals fans were treated to a special pre-game performance from Grammy-winning recording artist The Black Eyed Peas. Another special moment came at halftime when Cardinals fans got the opportunity to honor Hall of Fame safety and long-time administrator Larry Wilson as he was inducted into the Ring of Honor.
Another highlight of the 2006 season was the Cardinals first appearance on Monday Night Football since 1999. University of Phoenix Stadium was shown in a national spotlight as the Cardinals hosted the Chicago Bears in a prime-time match-up that aired live nationally on ESPN.
University of Phoenix Stadium showed its support and respect to our troops when in a November matchup against the Cowboys with a Veterans Day Celebration tribute to the nation’s military.
Former Cardinals safety Pat Tillman was honored at halftime as his name was placed into the Ring of Honor. In addition to the induction, the Cardinals dedicated the plaza surrounding the stadium as the Pat Tillman Freedom Plaza. When fans attend a game they will get the opportunity to look at the Pat Tillman Memorial located at the northwest side of the plaza. The memorial includes a large white bronze sculpture of Tillman on the eastern side and a circular reflection pond on its western side.
The Cardinals and University of Phoenix Stadium showed their commitment to Arizona High School athletics as they hosted the 2006 AIA 4A Division I and II, and 5a Division I and II, State Football Championships at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals hosted games on December 2 and 9 and nearly 10,000 fans showed up to support their schools.
As the team closed out their inaugural year at home with a marquee matchup against the Denver Broncos, the football did not stop in Glendale. University of Phoenix Stadium shined in the national spotlight as it hosted the Fiesta Bowl and the BCS National Championship game to begin 2007.
Named as the top NFL stadium by Street & Smith's Sportsbusiness Journal and Sportsbusiness Daily, University of Phoenix Stadium will have the honor to host Super Bowl XLII in February of 2008.