GLENDALE, Ariz.—Completion of the Arizona Cardinal’s new stadium kicks off this month with an August 12 pre-season game between the Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The game signals the end of one of the largest Arizona construction projects in the past two decades.
Owned by Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority, a municipal corporation, the $450 million stadium on the west side of Phoenix is among the most boldly designed stadiums inside and out. In February, before it held a single event, BusinessWeek declared it one of the 10 most impressive stadiums in the world. Designed by world-renowned architect Peter Eisenman, the outside is a mix of surfaces—steel decking, glass, stucco, and "Bird-Air" fabric—combined to create sweeping lines and a feeling of texture. A 13.3-acre domed roof made of two retractable panels covered in Bird-Air fabric opens the football field and stadium seats to the Arizona sky. But the translucent Bird-Air fabric provides the 63,000 stadium seats with an open and airy feel, even when the roof is closed.
The feature contributing most to the multipurpose capability of the stadium is the retractable field, the first of its kind in North America. UniSystems of Minneapolis designed the rollout system and the retractable roof. The turf sits in a massive tray weighing nearly 17 million pounds.
The tray holds the 234-foot-wide by 403- foot-long field, or more than 2 acres of natural turf. It was designed by CMX Inc., a Phoenix-based civil engineering and construction management firm. Except for football and soccer games, the grass-filled tray stays outside the stadium where the grass can get sunshine and nourishment.
The rollout field saves $50 million, because it is more economical to move the field than for the entire roof to retract to let sunshine reach the grass. Keeping the field tray outside also eliminates humidity problems inside the stadium and provides unrestricted access to the stadium floor for other events and staging.
The turf planted in the tray is a Bermuda hybrid, Tifway 419, and has a sophisticated irrigation system with timers. Water drains through two, 1-inch-deep mats and drainpipes carry it away. Some water stays in the tray during a game to keep the surface moist.
"Rolling" the field in takes about 65 minutes using 542 steel wheels rolling on 13 railed tracks. One-horsepower motors power 76 wheel sets 11.5 feet a minute to pull the tray 741 feet into the stadium.
When the field is outside, the stadium becomes a versatile exhibit hall, with about 160,000 square feet of exhibit space free from columns for trade and consumer shows, conventions, or concerts. A utility grid embedded in the concrete floor makes hook ups easy.
Most of the 120-acre site is impermeable.
The stadium parking lot holds 6,000 cars, but adjacent properties offer additional parking. Runoff from the roof and parking area runs into four, 24-inch-diameter storm drains that flow from the building site and into the nearby Bethany Home Outfall Channel. At 10 points around the property, 13 Vortechs Systems from Contech Stormwater Solutions clean the runoff before it enters the channel.