When the St. Louis Cardinals moved west to take up residence in the southwest they were invading Dallas Cowboys territory. It was a natural thing for the folks in Arizona to follow the star; Dallas was at least from their region of the country and there was that little track record of sustained success under Tom Landry.
In 1988 you could find more Cowboys fans in Phoenix than you could devotees of the team that had just moved into town.
The Cowboys resurgence in the 1990’s coupled with the relative lack of success by the Cardinals insured that Arizona would remain Cowboys country into the new millennium.
Even years after the Cardinals moved here, seeing their logo around town was almost as rare as sighting the actual bird. And when the Cowboys played the Cardinals at Sun Devil Stadium, the majority of fans rooted for the Cowboys. Seven of the Cardinals' 12 sellouts in Tempe came against the Cowboys.
Think about that for a moment. Dallas always draws well on the road, but it is highly unusual for one team to dominate the opponent’s attendance records the way the Cowboys did in Arizona.
Sun Devil Stadium could have referred to itself as Texas Stadium (West) and it was most obvious to the players who made up the (alleged) home squad.
"You thought, 'Whose stadium is this?'" - Cardinals Hall of Famer Aeneas Williams
Times have changed. Nearly three decades have gone by and a generation of fans has grown up with the Arizona Cardinals as the local team. The Cardinals have experienced a measure of their own success in the Valley of the Sun. That has shifted allegiances more in favor of the red team.
Some of the die hard Cowboys fans have went on to their eternal reward as well.
University of Phoenix Stadium will not have the feel of a home game for the Cowboys the way Sun Devil Stadium once did, but there will still be plenty of fans who bleed blue in attendance when the Cowboys and Cardinals renew acquaintances on Monday night.
Arizona Central summed it up most correctly a few seasons ago:
Perhaps there aren't fewer Cowboys fans, but there certainly are more Cardinals fans in Arizona than ever before.