Cards Deal Full House In Payson

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A flock of red birds flew their Tempe coup and made a perfect Rim country landing.

Thursday, Arizona Cardinals players, coaches, team mascot Big Red, cheerleaders and front office personnel made a public relations stop at the Pizza Factory.

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The Cardinals' mascot, Big Red, was in Payson yesterday participating in the NFL team's promotion tour that will wind through the southwest.

The meet-and-greet session was the first in several the Cardinals will make in the inaugural month-long Cardinals Caravan Tour. In addition to visiting Payson and other small towns, the tour will travel to Albuquerque, N.M. and Las Vegas, Nev.

According to Cardinals entertainment coordinator Wendy Cooley, the purpose of the tour is "to cultivate fan relationships, have a presence in community activities and visit local radio affiliates."

Cardinals vice-president of marketing and sales Ron Minegar said, "the tour presents the Cardinals organization with a great opportunity for our players and staff to visit fans from around the southwest."

The visit will also help generate statewide support for a team that floundered to a 6-10 record and didn't live up to the playoff expectations that many fans had after Arizona lured coach Dennis Green out of retirement.

Also included at each stop will be information on the new Cardinal Stadium in Glendale, set to open in 2006, and Cardinals giveaways for fans.

On hand in Payson for the 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. visit was fullback James Hodgins who continued on with the group to its next stop at R&R Pizza in Show Low.

The Cardinals stop in Payson was the second a professional sports team has made in less than a month.

The Arizona Diamondbacks tour made an appearance Jan. 21 at Mad Dawg's and Mel's.

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