Cardinals president Michael Bidwill talks about the team's facility upgrades and the new Pat Tillman memorial locker in Tempe.
It was fitting, on the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, that one of the finishing touches of the renovations to the Cardinals' Tempe facility was Pat Tillman's locker.
The locker, which had been Tillman's during his time with the team and then home to others after Tillman left, was just part of the area set for demolition as the Cardinals got a brand-new locker room this offseason. But the locker was saved, and Friday, it was unveiled in its permanent home just off the new cafeteria near the weight room – and not far from where it lived its locker life.
"We've decided to preserve Pat Tillman's locker, and tell his story," team president Michael Bidwill said. "Many of our future players and even current players may not know the stories of the Cardinals. But we wanted to tell the stories and talk about the history, the history of our organization and the history of Pat Tillman."
The team officially showed off its new look Friday, even though various parts had been in use for a while. The practice bubble, the first stage of renovations, is already a couple of years old. The players had moved into the new locker room at the end of the offseason work, and had eaten in the cafeteria all summer. The expanded weight room had debuted in the summer as well.
The building is a long way from where it had been for so many years, when many players often ate at their lockers because the eating area was so small, and food had to be brought in every day because of a lack of a full kitchen.
Including the bubble, the renovations cost $15 million. The three-year, three-phase expansion totaled 92,000 square feet, including 14,500 added to the main building (the bubble is 78,000 square feet.) The dining hall and kitchen alone is now almost 5,000 square feet, compared to the 600 square feet previously used for an eating area. The Cardinals also now employ a full-time culinary staff.
"It's been pretty solid to get all the stuff we have now compared to before," said defensive end Calais Campbell, who has been with the team since 2008. "This has been a comfortable workplace (before), but now you look forward to coming. You can hang with the fellas, and you want to be here longer. You don't want to rush home."
Other areas of improvement included a new expanded locker room for coaches and staff, an auxiliary locker room to accommodate the 90-man offseason roster, an updated training room and new doctor's examination room, an improved hydrotherapy area, additional meeting rooms, and a player rest and recovery room.
Throughout the building there are also messages added – "Protect the Nest" and "Team is what it takes" for instance – to remind everyone why they are there.
Plus, there are the nods to a franchise which has been around for more than 100 years.
"I love the history on the walls," coach Bruce Arians said. "The Cardinals' history, it's such a great history. To have it all up is amazing. This renovation is unbelievable. I can't imagine a better facility in the NFL right now."
Images from the team's $15 million facility renovations, including Pat Tillman's locker