That’s where I found myself Monday night, inside the black-and-powder-blue painted confines of FanDuel Sportsbook Arizona’s Footprint Center facility.
The facility, which opened Sept. 9 at the home of the NBA's Phoenix Suns, welcomed several dozen customers during the Cardinals' first Monday night appearance of the year.
What I saw during my four-and-a-half-hour stay showed the hunger for sports betting in the state and illustrated why Arizona NFL betting has been red hot since launching 96 days ago.
A Sports Betting Oasis in the Heart of Phoenix
One patron I came across early in the evening was former Northwestern University cornerback Shegun Cummings-John.
Cummings-John, who played for the Wildcats between 1998-2001, is a native Phoenician who now serves as the executive vice president at Dynalinks Global LLC.
He also is a tried-and-true Arizona sports betting customer who used to make the 250-mile trek to Las Vegas monthly until wagering was legalized here in September.
When asked what it meant to have sports betting in his figurative backyard, the Scottsdale resident joked, “10 hours of driving and $1,000 more in your pocket.”
“Most people went to Vegas to gamble and see shows and things like that,” Cummings-John told me. “And maybe we don’t have those shows here, but we’re the fifth-largest city in the country, and maybe this will help stimulate that type of growth here.”
Cummings-John, a practicing attorney in the state, said the 2021 gaming compact (which legalized sports betting and additional table games in Arizona) was a hard-fought endeavor that’s ultimately a win for all Arizonans, whether they bet on sports or not.
“I was privy to what it took to get all of this done,” Cummings-John said. “So, I knew how hard it was to get in here. So, I want to make sure that I come down. And this facility is awesome. It’s nice and accessible, and it’s right in the heart of the city, which is great.”
What to Expect at the Footprint Center Facility
Aside from the 10 Jumbotron-level screens that rotated between the Cardinals-Rams MNF showdown and various NBA games, the Footprint Center facility has loads of amenities that kept me entertained all night long.
As far as food and beverages are concerned, the sportsbook offers a small but tasty menu that includes buffalo chicken dip, nachos with various accoutrements, and your choice of cheese or pepperoni topped flatbread pizzas.
I opted to plunk down $12 for the latter option, which proved to be a lovely dinner option, along with my $3.25 fountain soda.
From there, I wandered around the facility, taking in the view of the Monday Night Football action from one of the facility’s 18 theater-style seats, as well as from the various bar-style high-tops and rail seats.
What I found was the facility is designed with viewing in mind, as I was able to see the MNF screen from all angles with ease, never having to crane my neck or stand up to witness the Cardinals’ 30-23 loss to the Rams.
I’d recommend you get settled early so you can score one of the Navy-blue overstuffed theater chairs, however, as those were by far the most comfortable seats in the house.
Another facet that interested me Monday night was the number of people that seemed to have no dog in the football fight, with many in attendance keeping a closer eye on whether Steph Curry would break the NBA’s 3-point record, over whether Kyler Murray and the Cardinals would secure home field advantage in the NFC.
As far as the crowd, I was pleasantly surprised at how jovial the sportsbook’s patrons were for most of the night.
Other than the young fella in front of me that yelled several four-letter words at Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury after his botched fourth down play-call in the game’s fourth quarter, much of the night had a laid-back atmosphere.
Take it from Cummings-John, who told me he has made it a tradition to come down to the FanDuel sportsbook facility to take in NFL action on Sundays this fall.
“It’s awesome, and I’m so glad that (Arizona) fast-tracked (sports betting), because they would have missed out on a lot of revenue, and this experience to build their brand, if it didn’t launch before football season,” he said. “I think during bowl season, this place is going to blow up, and I think during the NFL and NBA playoffs, it’ll be like it’s been here from Day 1.”
Those within the downtown sportsbook certainly seemed comfortable inside its confines, making themselves at home until Murray was thrown to the turf, ending Arizona's last-minute dash to send Monday’s contest to overtime.
The Cardinals lost the game, but it seemed obvious sports betting in Arizona is a winning addition for the state’s residents.