AZ Cardinals Stadium blog



Phoenix Arizona and the surrounding communities are the home of the National Football League Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals are the oldest continuously run professional football team in the United States, dating back to 1898 and have been named the Cardinals since 1901. They were based in Chicago until 1960 when they moved to St. Louis and then to Phoenix in 1988.

Since moving to Arizona, the Cardinals have played at the Arizona State University’s Sun Devil Stadium Tempe Arizona. In November of 2000, Maricopa County , in Arizona, approved Proposition 302 which allowed public funding for the construction of a new football stadium. The Arizona Tourism and Sports Authority began negotiations with Phoenix and the surrounding communities for a stadium site that offered the proper incentives and amenities. Many sites were proposed and rejected for various reasons, one because it was in the flight path of Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. The search went on for more than a year and a half, with the stadium design and site conditions constantly changing. Through all of this, two conditions remained constant:

  1. The roof must be retractable
  2. The playing field must roll out to leave a concrete floored, multi-purpose arena.

In August 2002 a site was selected in the city of Glendale , and the design was finalized. Construction began in July of 2003 on this futuristic architectural work of art. Scheduled to be completed by the start of the 2005 NFL season, the stadium will now open in August 2006. Once open this stadium will not only be home to the Arizona Cardinals, but it will host many different events, such as NCAA Final Four Championships, NCAA Bowl games, and the Super Bowl. The added feature of a retractable field allows for additional seating and motor events.

The retractable roof will provide an opening approximately 240 feet wide by 360 feet long centered over the playing field. A structure to accommodate this opening requires that the center portion of the roof be supported by a pair of trusses on 257 foot 6 inch centers and spanning 699 feet 6 inches. These so called Brunel trusses are 87 feet deep and have both top and bottom chords curved to meet at the ends. The top chord of the trusses consists of a boxed truss having wide flange beam chords on 15 foot centers laterally and vertically. For shipping and erection purposes, the top chords were broken up into 14 weldments with bolted field connections. They ranged in length from 44 feet to 66 feet, were 17 feet 7 inches high and 17 feet 7 inches wide, and weighed from 103,000 pounds to 167,500 pounds.

Precision Heavy Haul (PHH) was selected by the roof fabricator and erector, Schuff Steel Company, to transport all portions of the roof steel from their fabrication plant in Phoenix to the stadium site in Glendale. The area is heavily populated with numerous overhead obstructions such as traffic signals, signs and overhead wires. The 17 foot 7 inch height of the 28 boxed truss top chord sections made the overhead problem very significant. It was soon realized that a reduction in loaded height of 2 feet and pre-lifting all overhead wires would result in the saving of travel time and thousands of dollars over the 28 loads. The sections were very strong in bending and compression and therefore capable of sustaining the forces from Schnabel loading. That is, where the load becomes part of the bridge between the end supports. As a Schnabel load, the bottom of the truss could be carried as little as 6 inches off of the road surface, a substantial reduction from being loaded on any platform. Precision Heavy Haul had previously designed and constructed a Schnabel trailer for hauling large diameter pipe. The equipment would require substantial modification, but had adequate capacity and the necessary adjustment features. The problem was further complicated by the fact that the ends of the boxed top chord sections did not terminate the top and bottom beams at the same location. The difference varied by more than 3 feet and each of the 28 sections required a pair of extensions on the top chord at one end and a different pair for the bottom chord at the other end. The pinned connection between the transport equipment and the boxed truss sections consisted of a male connection on one end and a female connection on the other so that the transport equipment could be joined together for the return trips. The shop at Precision Heavy Haul invested a total of 324.5 man hours converting this trailer into a suitable fit.

Precision Heavy Haul had recently designed and built a number of four axle dollies that were hydraulically steerable on each end and hydraulically expandable form 13 feet to 20 feet out to out. Expansion and contraction of the axles can be accomplished under full load while traveling at slow speeds. This allows the transport equipment to travel normal highways at a moderated width, expand to 20 feet when approaching a bridge and thereby obtaining the dual lane loading allowance and then contracting again to 13 feet on the other side, all without stopping. One of these dollies was used on the rear of the Schnabel equipment, and another with a gooseneck attachment to form a jeep was used on the front. The added feature of hatboxes on each end was a must, due to the number of 90 degree turns and curb clearance needed, the turns needed to be completed in a timely fashion to avoid traffic delays.

The hauling process of the trusses consisted of handling the 28 sections three to four times. Once fabricated each section was loaded onto a pair of three line Goldhofer platform trailers separated by a 28 foot center section by the use of an overhead crane, each section was set on two I-beams located on the required load points of the trailer. From there it was moved from the fabrication shop to the lay down area where the supporting I-beams were lowered onto stands, once the section was sandblasted, PHH would back under the section, raise the trailer for reload and transport it to the paint shop where an overhead crane was utilized to offload. Upon paint completion the section was then loaded into the Schnabel trailer and readied for transport. The loaded dimensions for the largest truss section moved on site at Schuff Steel was 95 feet long, 17 feet 7 inches wide, and 22 feet 7 inches high, having a gross weight of 325,000 pounds.

The 15 mile haul route from the fabrication shop to the stadium consisted of crossing several bridges and wrong waying city streets to avoid light signals. The combined weight of the truss sections and the transport equipment exceeded the Arizona overweight permit laws for the number of axles and axle spacing being used. The law does provide for additional loading for dolly widths from 14 feet to 20 feet out to out, as much as 100 percent additional load for 7 foot wide axles, 20 feet out to out. Due the consistency of the routing and obstacles to be overcome, each load was accompanied by two Highway Patrol cars, one front escort equipped with a height pole and one rear escort. The loaded dimensions of the largest truss section for traveling over the road on the Schnabel equipment was 165 feet long, 20 feet wide, 18 feet 8 inches high and having a gross weight of 344,725 pounds.

Due to congestion in the hole at the stadium and the hauling portion remaining ahead of schedule, several of the trusses were required to be staged on site outside of the stadium. This required PHH to manually detach from the trusses leaving them on cribbing. During this time Schuff Steel workers added mounting brackets, safety barricades, and cat walks to the trusses adding 5,000# in weight and an additional 7′ in width. Once the staged trusses were prepped and ready for the trip down the 6% grade, PHH moved in and manually reattached the section to the trailer. The uncommonly rainy weather in Arizona made for wet, muddy site conditions. Braking and load control was a concern so PHH opted to set 10,000# of counter weight on the goose neck to add traction and attached a D6 dozer to the rear of the trailer to ensure a safe controlled journey into the hole. With progression and space becoming limited, once the Schnabel was separated in the hole, it was required to take the trailer up and out in two sections. Once on top there was adequate room for the two trailer sections to be pinned together for the journey home. The power units for all the transportation were T800 Kenworth tractors. A total of 427 loaded miles were driven during the movement of the 28 Brunel Trusses.

After 17 years of playing NFL games in a college stadium, Precision Heavy Haul feels honored to be a part in giving the Arizona Cardinals a NEST OF THEIR OWN.

Thanks to many months of planning, state of the art equipment, and the skills of everyone involved, the work was completed within budget, on or ahead of schedule with no incidents or accidents. (PHH received the 2004 SC&RA hauling job of the year for this project)


Engineering, Survey and Planning 135 hrs.
Fabrication 324.5 hrs.
Transport Operation 801.50 hrs.


Kenworth T-800’s License #AA23267, AB47195
(1) Shopmade hydraulic spread Schnabel 9 axle License #N73883, N73915
(1) Goldhofer THP/ SL (3 +3) License # M05824, M05825


Onsite Schuff Steel, Phoenix AZ.

Brunel trusses on Goldhofer
Gross weight 325,000 lbs.
Length 95’0″
Width 17’7″
Height 22’7″

Schuff Steel, Phoenix, AZ. to Cardinals Stadium, Glendale, AZ.

Brunel trusses on 9 axle hydraulic spread Schnabel transport

Gross weight: 344,725 lbs.
Length: 165’0″
Width : 20’0″
Height: 18’8″