Attending an Arizona Cardinals Football Game: A First Timer’s Guide

Are you a big National Football League football fan looking to catch a game while visiting Phoenix and the Valley of the Sun? If so, then attending an Arizona Cardinals football game is the perfect activity for you! Whether you are a Cardinals fan, a fan from a rival team, or fun-loving traveler looking for a good time on a Sunday afternoon in Phoenix, here are some tips for first timers. Without further ado, Buddy and I share our top 9 tips for attending an Arizona Cardinals Football Game: A first Timer’s Guide.

First and foremost, to all our international friends, yes, this post about football is about to American football and the NFL.

Second, Buddy and I are not Cardinals fans. Sorry fellow Arizonans! I am a second-generation Dallas Cowboy fan. My dad was a HUGE fan, and I grew up watching Cowboy games every Sunday as a child. In memory of my dad, Buddy is also a Dallas Cowboy fan. Full disclosure, we attended the Cardinals vs. Cowboys game and were there to cheer on the opposing team. And we were not the only ones! There was a very large group of Cowboy fans in the stands. In fact, our section had more Cowboy fans than Cardinals fans.

And lastly, this is not meant to be an extensive or exhaustive guide to visiting the Phoenix Metro area or Glendale, AZ where the Arizona Cardinals play. There are so many things to do and see in the Phoenix area, and not just on game day. We couldn’t include it all in one post! So, we won’t be covering everything there is to know. But we are including some tips that we would have found helpful to know before attending a game.

State Farm Staduim before the game

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Arizona Cardinals: The details

Established in 1898, the Arizona Cardinals are the oldest professional American football team in the National Football League. Originally founded in Chicago as the Morgan Athletic Club, the team joined the NFL in 1920 as the Chicago Cardinals. In 1960, the Cardinals moved to St. Louis becoming the St. Louis Cardinals. Then in 1988 the team moved to Phoenix and became the Phoenix Cardinals. The team then changed their name to the Arizona Cardinals in 1994.

Throughout the stadium, you will see historical photos and placards sharing the long history of the Cardinals organization.

Entrance to State Farm Stadium

About State Farm Stadium

State Farm Stadium is in Glendale, Arizona in the Phoenix-metro area. About a 20-minute drive from downtown Phoenix, a 40-minute drive from Old Town Scottsdale, and a 35-minute drive to Arizona State University Tempe Campus. The stadium opened in 2006 and seats 63,400 people. State Farm Stadium is home to Cardinals Team Stores and many concessions stands. And yes, the stadium does have air conditioning!

Visitors to the Phoenix- metro area can take a tour of State Farm Stadium before game day.

For the most up-to-date information, including upcoming events, lost and found, directions and parking, visit the State Farm Stadium website.

This game was the second time that Buddy and I attended a game at State Farm Stadium. We also attended another Cardinals vs. Cowboys game back in 2017. And, unfortunately, we have not yet had the chance to take a tour of State Farm Stadium.

A Teenager’s Perspective

Buddy says, “State Farm Stadium is a really nice place. I enjoyed walking around and seeing what it has to offer. Being a Cowboys fan, I did not like the red and yellow color scheme, but that is just me. Other than that, it is a nice stadium.”

Getting tickets

If you are interested in attending an Arizona Cardinals football game, the best way to get tickets is through the team’s official website. From there, you can decide if you want to purchase single game tickets or season tickets. You can also find the prices for the club seats.

The first time we went to a Cardinals game, I planned ahead and got tickets that were good seats through the Cardinals website. However, this most recent game we attended, I did not plan ahead! We decided to go to the game about a month before the game. By that time, all of the official tickets were sold out and I needed to buy from a 3rd party. It was SO expensive. So, our best advice is to plan ahead and buy your tickets early!

Walking to State Farm Stadium

9 Tips for Attending An Arizona Cardinals Football Game

1. Respect the heat

There’s a reason they call it the Valley of the Sun! And while Cardinals games that take place in late December might be pleasant, early in the season it is going to be hot! Even in late September and early October. If you are traveling from a cooler climate, make sure to respect the heat. Especially if you are tailgating in the afternoon.

Make sure you stay hydrated, especially if you are drinking alcohol during the festivities. And consider wearing a hat and sunscreen. By keeping hydrated and protected from the sun, you can fully enjoy the excitement of the game, regardless of the blistering Arizona heat.

We attended a game on a Sunday in late September and it was hot! We arrived in Glendale around 11am and the temperature was already 90 degrees Fahrenheit. And it only got warmer from there. Granted, that 90 degrees is about 20 degrees cooler than the summer months, but it is still very hot for September.

Even though we also live in the desert, Phoenix is hotter than Tucson and we definitely felt the heat. Especially walking around the tail gate. I was sweating by the time we got inside the stadium, and we absolutely needed water. If you are not used to the heat- be prepared!

Buddy says, “It was hot. Phoenix is just so much hotter than Tucson. It is unbearable!”

2. Where to stay

There are a handful of hotels in and around State Farm Stadium, with most of them near the Westgate Entertainment district. And the Phoenix-metro area has plenty of places to stay. Where to stay just depends on how close you want to be to the stadium. Whether or not you want to drive, or ride share, to the game. No matter where you stay, book your rooms early! Hotels in Glendale are really pricey during the football season.

Pro Tip: Fall is high season in Arizona. If you are attending a game in October, make sure to book your rooms, flights, and rental cars in advance!

Despite looking into hotels in Glendale, we opted not to spend the night before the game in the Phoenix area. One reason was due to prices, the hotels near State Farm Stadium were so expensive! The other factor was that Buddy had a band competition the night before the Cardinals game that ended at 11pm! Rather than stay in Phoenix, we opted to get up early and make the 4-hour round trip drive from Tucson to Glendale. It was a long day.

3. Getting to State Farm Stadium

The best way to get to State Farm Stadium is by car. That means that either you are driving yourself or using rideshare or a taxi. However, if you stay at one of the nearby hotels, you may be able to walk. That of course, depends on the weather. If it is really hot outside, driving might still be the best bet. But, if the weather is nice and you have some comfortable shoes, you could walk to the game.

But if you prefer traveling by car, here are some options!

  • Ride share. State Farm Stadium has an area in the Black Lot south of the stadium dedicated to ride share drop offs and pickups.
  • Your car. Yes, you can drive your car, but you will have to pay for parking. But, surprisingly, the parking around State Farm Stadium is not super expensive, so that is a plus.

Pro Tip: If you are driving your own car, get to the parking lot early. This way you beat traffic and you can tail gate! Or, if you are like me, admire the set ups of the seasoned tailgaters!

During our most recent trip to State Farm Stadium, we drove our car to the stadium as we drove up to Glendale from Tucson that morning. After a quick breakfast, we left Tucson around 9am and arrived in Glendale at 11am. This left us with enough time to explore the tail gate areas and walk around the stadium with plenty of time before the game.

Because we arrived at our designated parking lot early, there was no traffic and there were plenty of parking spots. It was nice and chill.

AZ Cardinals Preflight Party

4. Pay for parking in advance

Beat the stress of game day parking by purchasing your parking spot in advance. State Farm Stadium sells advanced parking through And the stadium has many parking lots to choose from, all at different prices. The most affordable lot is the lot that is farthest from the stadium. And the more expensive lots are closer.

If you forget to pay for parking in advance, no worries! There is a pay lot in the Black Lot that you can drive up to and pay for your parking onsite. If you choose to pay onsite, you will need to bring a debit or credit card as cash is not accepted.

Pro Tip: If you pay for parking in advance, make sure to download the SeatGeek app so you can easily scan your parking ticket upon arrival.

Fans driving into the game from Loop 101, there are signs directing you to a specific exit for each colored parking lot. Follow the signs off the freeway and continue to follow the signs through the neighborhoods until you reach the parking lot.

After we decided that we were driving up to the game the day of, I immediately looked for parking options. I was pleasantly surprised at how inexpensive parking was in the area. I pre-paid for a spot in the black lot. The signs guiding us to the parking lot from the 101 were confusing at one point and Sal made a wrong turn into a Walmart parking lot. But Buddy saw the sign and directed us back on track. It was a bit of a walk from the Black lot to the stadium, but it was nice to walk after the drive.

Surprisingly, the cost of parking at the stadium is not that expensive!

5. Join in the pre-game festivities

If you are not tailgating but want some fun pre-game festivities, there are a handful of fun things to do before the game. From music, tailgating, and sports betting on the Great Lawn to watching games at the Flight Deck, there are many things to enjoy. The Preflight Party on the south lawn has food trucks, Cardinal’s cheerleader autographs, and most importantly, shade! Another place with shade is the Cardinals Flight Deck. This area has a DJ, and a seating area where you can watch other games.

The Great Lawn has tailgates, the Heritage at Sportsman’s Park complete with a beer garden, BetMGM Sportsbook, and a stage with live music. The only downside to the great lawn is that there is not a lot of shade. If you are looking for shade, and air conditioning, a ticket to the game will also get you into the Big Red Brew Haus.

Families! There are plenty of games for kiddos at these places.

Preflight Party

When we attended the Arizona Cardinals football game, we did not do our own tailgate. Rather, walked around the different areas. We spent some time at the Cardinals Flight Deck. From there, we went to the Great Lawn and admired the work of the expert tailgaters before heading over to Heritage at Sportsman’s Park for some food.

It was hot and the little shade that was there was completely taken. We opted for eating standing up in the shade rather than at a table in the sun. It was so hot that Buddy was asking if State Farm stadium had AC!

We did not know about the Big Red Brew Haus. Next time, we will start there.

Buddy says, “The tail gate – go! And get water before the game. It is much cheaper there.”

6. Eat at the food trucks

There are food trucks in State Farm Stadium! So, if you want something beyond ballpark food, check out the food trucks for a variety of choices.

When we attended a Cardinals game, we saw the food trucks after we just ate at Heritage at Sportsman’s Park. Sal was disappointed because he liked the options for food at the food trucks over what we had just eaten on the Great Lawn. It was a bummer!

Also, I must say, the food options in State Farm Stadium were surprisingly good. Buddy had three carne asada tacos from Lola’s and a hotdog. I had a bite of his tacos, and it was really good. And I must also say that Sal enjoyed his michelada. He was looking for one of those at AT&T Stadium when we attended the Cowboys game last year and they did not have any. But lo and behold, State Farm Stadiums sell micheladas!

Buddy says, “The food is actually really nice. I would recommend it. The tacos were good.”

Selfie at State Farm Stadium

7. Check the policy for bags and signs

State Farm Stadium has a clear bag policy. Before you visit you will want to check the website for up-to-date information regarding their clear bag and small clutch policy. The stadium also offers a mobile bag check service for a fee and a handbag handoff donation station where visitors can donate their purse on the spot before the game.

Handheld signs are permitted if they meet certain size, materials, and content criteria. They must also not block anyone’s view. Check the website for up-to-date information regarding signs.

We did not bring any bags into State Farm when we attended the Arizona Cardinals football game. I managed to fit everything I needed for the day into my pockets using this small wallet. I attach the key chain to my belt pocket when wearing jeans.

Also, we didn’t make any homemade signs for this game. But during the game we saw a few home-made signs (congratulations to the couple who were getting married!) and many many flags from my home state of New Mexico. Seven total! Which was much more than the two New Mexican flags we saw in Dallas last year. (Shot out to my fellow manito Cowboy fans!).

8. Prepare for game traffic

As the Arizona Cardinals game comes to a close, win or lose, fans ready themselves for the journey home. But, with any large event, there is bound to be a lot of traffic. However, as much as we all love attending these games, getting out of the stadium can be quite a challenge due to the game traffic. It’s not uncommon to find yourself stuck in a sea of vehicles waiting to make their way out of the parking lots. Traffic can also back up on the neighborhood streets surrounding the Stadium and on the nearby freeways. Pack your patience. With all those cars on the road, it can take a long time for game traffic to subside.

While Sal drove into State Farm Stadium, I drove out. And traffic was atrocious! Getting out of the parking lot was chaos. And while we took city streets to avoid the back up on the 101 and I-10, the city streets were a nightmare. I did not time how long it took us to get out of traffic and onto the freeway, but it was a long time. Buddy helped me navigate while Sal slept through it all – lol!

9. Enjoy the game

Win or lose, enjoy your time with your friends or family! Take in the sights, cheer on your team, do the wave, and maybe boo the refs depending on the penalties they call, and have a great time!

Despite this being a Cardinals home game, there were SO many Dallas Cowboy fans at State Farm Stadium. In fact, there were many many more Cowboy fans in our section than Cardinal fans. As we were walking into the stadium, I overheard a fellow Cowboy fan say “Is this Dallas Fort Worth? Look at all of the Cowboy fans!” We were numerous.

And despite that show of support, the Cowboys lost! It was the first time Buddy saw them lose in person and he was bummed. But you win some, you lose some. And despite the Cowboys loss, most Cardinals fans were very friendly both during and after the game. It was a lovely welcome into the “nest.”

Yvonne & Buddy before the game

A Teenager’s Perspective

Buddy says, “It was a fun experience. State Farm Stadium is nice. I enjoyed the entire experience in general.

I did not see a lot of teenagers my age. It was mostly families with small kids and adults. I thought that was surprising because I think that a lot of teenagers my age would like a football game. Especially if you are into sports, football, or the NFL. I also saw a lot of people from Texas and New Mexico driving into the game. And even a few cars coming up I-10 from Tucson with Cowboys stickers. That was fun to see.

I would go again, and I recommend it for teenagers. I think they will like it, especially if they are a Cardinals fan.

But yea, the Cowboys lost. Big sad!”

Well, they don’t always win but I am glad to continue a family tradition with Buddy that I began with my family as a child.

From the parking lot

And We did not film a Movement Postcard at State Farm Stadium. But we enjoyed watching the Mexican Folklorico dancers who performed at halftime for Latino Heritage Month!

We hope this guide has been helpful in getting you ready for your first Dallas Cowboys game. Just remember to buy your tickets in advance, respect the heat, and enjoy the hospitality the “Nest” has to offer!

Are you an NFL Football fan? If so, who is your favorite team? Let us know in the comments below.

Do you have questions about family travel or traveling with teens? Feel free to reach out! We are happy to chat and share our experiences! We look forward to connecting with you.

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MPA Project Travels

Hello! We are Yvonne & Buddy and we create family travel blogs based on firsthand knowledge and experiences of a destination. Our goal is to inspire teens, parents, and families to share time together engaging in new experiences whether the destination is near or far from home. Come join us on our travels!

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10 thoughts on “Attending an Arizona Cardinals Football Game: A First Timer’s Guide

  1. I was never into football until my son started playing. And then it was something we could enjoy watching on tv. But U.S. football is so much bigger than Canadian football. I would love to enjoy a NFL game. Even if I would have to plan to see New England and cheer for my son’s favourite team.

  2. Do you think this would be fun even for foreigners that don’t know anything about NFL? I really like the sound of it (I mean, apart from the traffic!)

    I only learned about tailgate parties before games this year… but it sounds like a really fun part of American culture. I’m glad you mentioned that too!

    • Absolutely! I think that it would be a great way to experience a slice of Americana. There are so many fun things to do and see both before, after, and during an NFL game. Even if you don’t follow the sport, it is a great experience. And yes, the tailgates are fun to do and see and are such an important part of game day.

  3. I’ve only been to a football match in Europe which is a different game. Having seen your photos attending a football game in America seems to be quite an experience.

  4. I’ve always wanted to watch NFL. I have no idea how it’s being played though. I just feel like it’s so much fun to be inside a stadium with so much energy! Do you think I’ll enjoy it with almost zero knowledge on the game?

    And thanks for your detailed insights and practical tips!

Share your thoughts!