The Arizona Cardinals celebrated the ceremonial groundbreaking on Saturday, April 12 at the site of the future multipurpose stadium in Glendale.
The pre-game activity included a Pop Warner game coached by honorary team captains defensive linemen Kyle Vanden Bosch and Fred Wakefield.
"I think Kyle's team had a slight size and age advantage so I helped my team out and made some tackles for the kids," offered Wakefield. "I think they just really had a great time out there. There were some pretty talented kids."
Several current and former Cardinals players including Damien Anderson, Mike Banks, Leonard Davis, Tim Duncan, Bryan Gilmore, Freddie Jones, Ronald McKinnon, Josh McCown, Alton Moore, Nathan Poole, Travis Prentice, Marcel Shipp, Michael Stone, Tony Wragge, Michael Young, Carlos Brooks, Rich Camarillo, Eric Hill, Derek Kennard, Luis Sharpe, Mark Walczak, and Bernard Wilson gathered with Cardinals cheerleaders and Big Red along the sidelines to cheer on the Pop Warner players and sign autographs.
The Cardinals, the TSA, City of Glendale and Fiesta Bowl had a guest list of over 3,000 people for the ceremony and the long-awaited beginning of the $355 stadium.
The celebration commenced with the singing of the National Anthem by Luke Air Force Base's Chief Master Sergeant Sandra Harris and the playing of "America the Beautiful" by the Glendale Police Department Honor Guard Pipes & Drums.
Cardinals play-by-play voice Dave Pasch served as the master of ceremonies, introducing several keynote speakers including Cardinals President William Bidwill, Vice President and General Counsel Michael Bidwill, Head Coach Dave McGinnis, Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs, Glendale City Manager Ed Beasley, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Tourism and Sports Authority Jim Grogan, President/CEO of the Tourism and Sports Authority Ted Ferris, Chairman of the Fiesta Bowl Leon Levitt, and President of the Fiesta Bowl John Junker.
"Today is a momentous day as my father said," spoke Michael Bidwill. "I can only wish that my grandfather Charles Bidwill, who is in the NFL Hall of Fame, is looking down and smiling today. He is going to share the pride of our family and the rest of the organization. At long last, the Cardinals will have a home to call our own."
The Cardinals new home, expected to be complete for the 2006 NFL season will have a permanent seating capacity of 63,000 and the state-of-the-art facility will feature a roll-out natural grass field and retractable roof. The stadium project has been an arduous process, but one that has been worth the fight and that will create more than 3,500 jobs and more than $400 million in economic benefits to Arizona's economy.
"This process has been like a football game and it is about how you finish," explained Michael Bidwill. "We knew at the outset that there were going to be challenges. We played offense, we played defense, we moved the ball. Sometimes we lost yardage. We punted. As a matter of fact, we had to punt more than once. Through all of that we scored. There were penalty flags, it was challenged, it was reviewed. We called several timeouts but we didn't give up. None of us did, none of you here today. We huddled our team and returned to offense with a new game plan. We hung tough and finally scored here today in Glendale in the thriving West Valley."
McGinnis was the last to address the crowd before the group began the ceremonial shoveling of the dirt.
"What an incredible feeling to be here today when everybody here is talking, and saying, and living, and breathing with one heartbeat," shared McGinnis. "They said it couldn't be done, but here we are. When Mr. Bidwill afforded me the opportunity to be the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, I ended my conversation with him with this phrase, 'I am proud to be your head football coach.' I am proud today to be here with our players, with our alumni, with our fans, with our supporters because that is our vision and that is our mission to have success coming into this fabulous facility and then to have success on this ground that we are going to dig today."