It was inevitable.
After Northern Arizona University rescinded the offer made by the club to continue holding the annual offseason ritual in Flagstaff a few months ago, you knew the writing was on the wall.
The Arizona Cardinals would toss away the the 7,000 foot elevation scenic college-like atmosphere that have benefited for the last 25 seasons for the more cost effective business-efficient practices at their home field in Glendale. And the decision should come sooner than later.
KTAR.com reported that the team and city is close to a 15 year deal that moves the money-making scrimmages( estimates in the $10 million range, with 200 jobs created) from the cool pines to the low elevation desert. The only setbacks for the deal not being finalized seems to have to do with future compensation for the city being paid for parking and the youth soccer fields that a "bubble practice facility" would be replacing. Glendale has had financial difficulties with the neighboring NHL Phoenix Coyotes and the underdeveloped Westgate properties. Another money loser would not be a wise option for the council. A possible solution could be a parking garage paid for by the Cardinals (which is a sticking point) and use of the bubble by the kids when not employed by the team.
Moving to your home base as opposed to having camp further away is a growing trend in the NFL. 20 of the 32 teams now hold it at their main facility to better utilize the advantages they have close in hand: doctors, weight rooms and X-Ray machines are there at a moments notice, let alone the convenience players have by transiting a short distance to the stadium as opposed to the 2 hour drive up the hill where weird things can happen, a la former TE trying to stay awake on the journey.
While the estimated $4 million dollar bubble (on the club's nickel) couldn't be constructed in time for this year's training camp and all practices would be in the University of Phoenix Stadium ( with morning practices in the plastic dome when constructed and afternoon runarounds in the stadium), the team is confident that moving it south will provide more opportunity for the over four million Valley of the Sun population. Last year's FanFest brought an estimated 15,000 Birdgang followers to their scrimmage - can you imagine a Red-White scrimmage attendance at UPHO?
Cardinals usually announce training camps details the last week of June, which would fit the timeline that the Glendale city council expects.
But wouldn't it be cool - so to speak - if Flagstaff was given a last minute reprieve for one more year?