Chris Daughtry Kicks Off Banner Night in Phoenix
This is how a city gets ready for its close-up.
Three hours before University of Phoenix Stadium made its prime-time debut Monday, 2006 American Idol finalist Chris Daughtry (below) -- the North Carolina rocker with a shaved head and goatee -- belted out his practice version of the national anthem.
According to the Arizona Daily Star, the Cardinals cheerleaders dressed in sweats and went through their routines while ESPN reporters filmed live shots on the sideline. The flame-spitting machines used for the Cardinals' entrance were tested.
Then the video came on the scoreboard. Hank Williams Jr. singing the "Monday Night Football" theme song played to an empty stadium.
The warm-ups were necessary. The "Monday Night Football" game against the Chicago Bears marked only the fourth time the Cardinals have appeared on the broadcast at home since 1988.
While ESPN's fleet of seven production trucks and 400 people went through their final pre-game checks, Mark Carroll wandered around the so-called "Great Lawn" outside of Entrance No. 1.
Carroll, a Scottsdale resident and 1989 University of Arizona grad, seemed awed by the abundance of tents and tailgaters that had arrived in the early afternoon.
"That's what we've been saying all season long â it's so un-Cardinal-like," said the season ticket-holder of 10 years. "It's exciting. Something's gonna happen. Who knows what it's gonna be? Maybe a Cardinals win."
Until this year, the Cardinals rarely sold out games, meaning Phoenix fans could not even watch their team's home games on television.
There is no doubt the $455 million stadium was the reason for the prime-time trip. Monday night, the sell-out crowd waved white towels â literally, not figuratively â and shouted down the 20 percent of the crowd decked out in navy and orange.
ESPN constructed two stages to accommodate Daughtry's appearance, one on a bridge behind the end zone and one in the parking lot.
Celebrities in attendance ran the gamut from the gorgeous (Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher) to the gluttonous (Charles Barkley and Tom Arnold).
Unfortunately, Matt Leinart and the Cardinals squandered a 20-point lead and fell to the visiting Bears. But it was still a night to remember in Phoenix.