GLENDALE - Trish Chappell, wearing a red No. 7 Cardinals jersey, stood at the pump at the Circle K on Val Vista Drive in Mesa at 9:45 a.m. Saturday, filling the pickup truck with gas while her husband, Mike, was inside paying the cashier. We can deduce two things from this scene: One if live in the East Valley, you better gas up before you go to Arizona Cardinals home games from now on.
Second, the Chappells although young, are not newlyweds. Brides don’t pump gas, at least not where I’m from.
The marriage analog y seemed appropriate for Saturday, which marked the Cardinals’ inaugural game in their new stadium in Glendale.
For when you think about it, Saturday’s unveiling of the new stadium had the feel of a lavish wedding ceremony, complete with out-of-town guests — you know, folks from Mesa and Scottsdale and Tempe and Chandler.
You will find no nitpicking here when it comes to the amenities the new stadium affords. It is impressive in every detail.
But there is one glaring flaw.
. . . They built it in the wrong place.
Let’s face it: Glendale is the place you go when you have no place to go. Next door, the Phoenix Coyotes play in an arena that was supposed to have been built at the Los Arcos site in Scottsdale.
And as I made the drive from Mesa to the new Cardinals Stadium, I thought of the drive I might have made to the Rio Salado site on the Tempe-Mesa border or the Mesa site, which is now becoming a shopping center built around a Bass Pro franchise.
No knock on the folks who need a convenient place to buy plastic worms, but it would be nice not to have to drive through two area codes to get to an NFL game, you know?
But it is poor form to criticize the bride on her wedding day. And the East Valley fans who made the drive out west seemed to be in a conciliatory mood.
“This is right where the stadium should be,’’ said Robert Cummings of Mesa. “We had our chance to have it, but no one could make a decision because of the politics and dumb (people) there. Glendale was the place that would give us what we wanted. It could have been a great thing for Mesa, but no.’’
Indeed, Mesa voters rejected a plan that would have built the stadium at the current Riverview site by a 3-2 margin in May 1999. In Mesa, investing in the future does not go beyond buying green bananas.
Carson Bradley, a contractor who lives in Scottsdale, was a little wistful as he remembered the original plans for the stadium where the loops 101 and 202 meet.
“Man, that’s probably two minutes from where I live,’’ Bradley said. “It would have been great.’’
Bradley said it took him about 1 1 /2 hours to get to the stadium from his home. The location of the stadium did not factor into his decision to renew his season tickets, which he has held for five years.
“You deal with it,’’ he said. “I think it won’t be too big a deal if they build a winning team. But it’s going to take nine- or 10-win seasons if they want people to get serious about it. If they keep losing, they’ll be in trouble after the new wears off.’’
For East Valley fans, the biggest unknown was figuring out when to leave home to get to the game on time and there seemed to be no consensus.
Consider the experience of two groups of Scottsdale fans. Tim Siegel and Dan Drummond left their homes in Scottsdale at 11:10 and were parked by 11:55.
Bob Arnold and Joanie White left from their home in north Scottsdale at 11:15 and got to their seats five minutes before halftime, a 2 1/2 hour ordeal.
“Not enough cops directing traffic and the signs were horrible,’’ Arnold said.
The Strouds — James and Rachael and children Isaiah and Naomi, left Fountain Hills at 10:45 and parked at 11:30.
“Everything went really well,’’ Rachael Stroud said.
Nicole Achison of Chandler figured she was making a good move when she decided to leave at 9. She arrived at 9:30 only to find that the stadium wouldn’t open until 11:30. Kickoff was at 1 p.m.
“Stupid,’’ she said. “We’re out there baking in the sun for two hours.’’
But the East Valley out-oftowners seemed to take it all in stride.
“It’s an awesome stadium, don’t you think?’’ Bradley said.
Indeed. Glendale is a nice place to visit. At least as long as the honeymoon lasts.