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Unique Roof Provides Comfort Zone

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Click here to watch a time lapse of the roof opening!

As the hot summer temperatures in Arizona continue to rise, Cardinals players and fans can look forward to home games in the air conditioned atmosphere of the new Cardinals Stadium in the West Valley.

The retractable roof is a key feature at Cardinals Stadium, which opens in less than two months. The roof is one of the many inimitable features at Cardinals Stadium that will allow the ultimate game and fan experience. It can remain closed during hot months to provide fans with a comfortable air-conditioned environment but can open when it is cooler to expose the beautiful desert sky.

The stadium roof is comprised of two retractable panels which will allow the stadium to be open or closed. The opening and closing process can be performed in approximately fifteen minutes.

In the beginning stages of the stadium design process, several entities including Hunt Construction, HOK Sport, Peter Eisenman, Schuff Steel, the structural engineering firm of Walter P. Moore, and Uni-Systems teamed up to work in concert. The group set out to create a roof structure that was cost efficient as well as visually dynamic.

Walter P. Moore has a history of structural designs with sports venues, boasting over one hundred on their resume, including the worlds first covered sports stadium, the Astrodome, built 40 years ago, as well as two of the most recent retractable roof stadiums, Minute Maid Park and Reliant Stadium in Houston. They were able to apply lessons learned from those most recent projects in the design of Cardinals Stadium.

Designers took ideas to the next level by incorporating the retractable roof along the elliptical shape making it the first roof in North American history to move on an arc. The elliptical shape allows for much longer expanses to be bridged than a conventional design would allow. The trusses weigh close to 1800 tons and at their tallest points, measure 87 feet. The 700 foot trusses are supported by four enormous concrete Super Columns that hold the trusses 156 above field level.

The Cardinals new home made history in February of 2005 when the largest roof lift in North American history was performed to set the two giant Brunel trusses in place. After five long, rainy days, the corner of each Brunel truss was placed into a notch atop each of the four Super Columns, which were specifically engineered and designed to perform the lift. The lift was managed by Hunt Construction Group, the nation's leading sports facility builder that has managed construction of four of the six retractable-roof stadiums in the U.S. including Chase Field in Phoenix.

The 11.2 million pound roof assembly weighs the equivalent of 14 Boeing 747 airplanes and was lifted with eight strand lifting units capable of hoisting 990 tons each. The total capacity of the lifting system was 7,900 tons or enough to raise the Eiffel Tower.

Once the trusses were in place construction continued on the assembling of the remainder of the roof structure.

In addition to the retractable element, another unique aspect of the roof design is the translucent fabric called Birdair, which covers the majority of the roof. The material allows the natural sunlight to penetrate through the fabric, still giving an open, airy feeling even while the roof is closed.

When the two equally-sized roof panels slide towards the north and south end zone, they create an opening that is approximately 240 feet wide by 360 feet long and fully exposes the playing field. The retractable roof was opened for the first time on December 3, 2005 and was left open for several weeks as other construction continued on the remarkable building.

In 2002 when the Cardinals took over design and construction control of the stadium project, the team set out to establish a new standard of design excellence and increased its investment in the project significantly. Since then, the venue has received worldwide acclaim for its distinctive architecture and cutting-edge design and was recently named by Business Week as one of the ten most impressive sports facilities in the world.

Cardinals Stadium will not only feature a retractable roof but will also be the first in the United States to feature a fully retractable grass playing surface. (Click here to watch a time lapse of the field tray moving inside Cardinals Stadium) In addition to hosting Cardinals games, the stadium will host Super Bowl XLII in February of 2008. It will also be the annual site of the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl and will host the first-ever BCS National Championship Game in January of 2007. The stadium will have a seating capacity of 63,000 with the ability to expand to 73,000 for mega-events.

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