This past weekend, I had the privilege of being in Phoenix, AZ for the NFL’s Pro Bowl. 2015 marks the first year the Pro Bowl was played the week before – and in the same location as – the Super Bowl. I believe this change was a good thing. It gave the venue a “practice run”, so to speak, before the big game.

In my opinion, Glendale was an ideal location for an event such as this in the heart of winter – no worries about snow here! During the afternoon, it was a blue sky day with temperatures near 80 degrees – perfect weather for tailgating, or enjoying the activities around University of Phoenix stadium.

The NFL did a great job of entertaining fans before the game in the GameDay Fan Plaza. All ticketholders were able to take a picture with the Pro Bowl Trophy, get NFL player autographs (for free!) and enjoy marching bands, Pro Bowl cheerleader appearances and a variety of musical acts before entering the stadium.

Walking around before kickoff, I noticed this game attracted people of all ages, from all over the world. I was pleasantly surprised to see many families – what an awesome experience for the little ones! One reason for this abundance of families may be the location change – shifting the game from Hawaii likely made the trip to the Pro Bowl a lot more affordable for more NFL fans.

I also enjoyed watching fans interact with each other. It was nice to see the camaraderie among fans, even if they did not know one another. It was common to see fans sporting gear of the same NFL team high-fiving when they passed each other in the concourse.

As it drew closer to game time, the temperature dropped (as you would expect in the desert); however, it was still pleasant. The stadium was beautiful when the outside lights appeared. Fans appeared cooperative with the policies and security measures in place as they filed in and out of the stadium. Overall, it was an excellent experience, and very nice to see a sold out crowd come out and enjoy a day of fun, friends, family, food, and football.