GLENDALE, Ariz. - As the Arizona Cardinals get ready to start their preseason, fans and businesses alike are looking forward to what's ahead.
Gates at the stadium opened up at 4:00 p.m. in Aug. 13, and with the start of the preseason, businesses in the Westgate Plaza area are looking forward to a big rebound.
Businesses looking forward to customers
Westgate Plaza is home to restaurants that are the closest to State Farm Stadium. Businesses in the area really rely on games at State Farm Stadium and the nearby Gila River Arena, and they really missed out on last year as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
"To take away those eight regular season games plus the preseason games, and not having live football anywhere put a damper on the entire season," said Scott McIntire, Managing Partner and Owner at The Lola. "Our numbers were down across the board. Even on away games they were down. People weren’t into football. This year, we are excited to have the Vardinals back and fans ready to go."
"We are really excited," said Jarrett McDonald, General Manager for Lumberjaxes Axe Throwing. "Football brings a lot of people walking around Westgate and having fun, and we are always open beforehand. People coming in, throwing axes, drinking, eating while watching the game, which is awesome for you."
For one family, preseason game was bittersweet
Of the thousands of people that attended the game at State Farm Stadium, one seat that should have been filled was empty.
"He should have been here today, and it was solely for him 'cause he is a huge Cowboys fan," said Crystal Maldonado.
The tickets for the game were a Father’s Day present for Aaron Maldonado. The 48-year old was killed in a hit-and-run crash, while driving home from work.
"He was just a hard worker. He was fun to be around, loved jokes, a huge beautiful smile to share," said Crystal. "It was gonna be their first Cowboys game together, so we just made it a family thing for us to all be here today."
The tickets were originally just for the immediate family. Now, in the wake of Aaron’s death, a friend donated more than 80 tickets in Aaron's honor, so that the whole extended family could cheer on his favorite team.
"He would just be like ‘yes!’ He would just be super excited, and to be with his kids and his dad," said Crystal.
The family believes Aaron is still watching, and now he has an even better view.
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