Welcome to Fan Zone Friday here on Westgate Corner.com! Today, we interview fellow Arizona Cardinals fan, Eric – the head of the the Bird Gang Travel Club!
GirlontheCorner: How long have you been in AZ, and how long have you been a fan of the Arizona Cardinals?
Eric: I moved to AZ in 1986, originally from Chicago. In 1988 the Cards came to AZ, I started going to games with friends. In 1989 I was like “Heck yeah, I can buy season seats for $18.00 a game to the Cards? A real NFL team”… Little did I know the years of pain and suffering- between how bad the team was back then, the metal bleachers and the heat, and being outnumbered by visiting team fans 5-1 every game. From there my passion grew, and just became a “diehard”. I guess I relate it to my grandpa who was a life long Cubs fan, and was always like “This could be our year”. Then it changed to, “Well maybe next year”.
GirlontheCorner: Do you attend only Arizona Cardinals games or Arizona Coyotes games as well?
Eric: I usually try and make it to a handful of hockey games, and enjoy the Westgate area. I grew up in Glendale, so even though I live in the far North-East Valley now, I still claim the “Westside”as my home.
GirlontheCorner: Tell us a little more about “sidewalk-gating”/support for the Arizona Cardinals this next Sunday, Sept. 27 vs the Detroit Lions? What time, where to park, what to bring?
Eric: We learned week 1 players and staff begin driving in about 9:30 am (game vs. Lions start time is 1:25 pm MST), so as long as you’re out there before that time, you won’t miss anything other then the guys setting up the cones, blocking off the street and mostly media rolling in.
The other fun part is the visiting team buses roll in right past us, so its great to greet them with a chorus of boos as they drive by.
Options on parking (because all of the stadium lots are closed off) are going be either (north) by Carl’s Jr. / (Tanger) outlet mall area, and walk south down 95th Ave. past Gates 2 and 1 until you get to back of stadium (south – its closer to Bethany Home Road/Cardinals Way) or park over by American Furniture Warehouse and walk east up Bethany/Cardinals Way until you hit 95th Ave.
As far as what to bring: water for one- it is still warm out, a folding chair if you feel like carrying it, flags, banners, or get creative and make a sign! Show your support for the team since they don’t have us cheering inside.
GirlontheCorner: Tell us about tailgating before Arizona Cardinals home games at State Farm Stadium- what do you normally do and what do you recommend?
Eric: Normally our group is on the Great Lawn, any given Sunday at home. We have a huge setup, with TVs, music, cornhole, food and most of all, about 50-75 fans! We also (during a normal season) run a fan party bus that brings fans to our tailgate at to and from the game safely.
GirlontheCorner: Do you have favorite Westgate restaurants or bars? Any great stories?
Eric: Usually I hit whatever has the shortest wait time at Westgate. Saddle Ranch (not currently open), especially if the kids are with- they gotta have that huge martini glass of cotton candy! Usually if I have a DD, its either Whiskey Rose or Fat Tuesday for drinks… and try not to end up in the fountain after (yes there is a story behind that, lol, but I won’t go into anything more)!
GirlontheCorner: Is there anything else good to know that relates to the Westgate/Stadium area?
Eric: Westgate has become such a cool spot; Between the food, drinks and now Top Golf… and if your feeling lucky the casino after a game! One of the things I like to do after a home game (to avoid sitting in traffic after the game) is walk down to Westgate, pick a spot to eat and watch the late games or Sunday Night Football, and then leave after all the gridlock is gone.
GirlontheCorner: How can other fans connect with you and the Bird Gang Travel Club?
Eric: Birdgang.com & birdgangtravel.com are the 2 websites for fan information (the travel is more for events & road games and home tailgating ) @birdgang on Twitter and @birdgangtravel on Twitter and Instagram.
*Photo courtesy of the Bird Gang Travel Club Instagram, Eric & his business partner with Kyler Murray. Eric says they sell the headbands with the hair (hand-made). Kyler thought they were awesome, when they took the photo with him at the Cardinals Charity Bowling last season!