Change is coming to Lincoln Financial Field beginning this fall.
A two-year plan which will cost an estimated $125 million will add high-definition video boards, upgrade club and suite boxes, create numerous entry points for fans, create additional seating and celebrate the team’s history with art throughout both levels of the stadium. Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said the upgrades are a direct result of the fans and will improve the overall experience while at the stadium.
“It’s kind of like a situation where you love a house, but you want to even make it better,” Lurie said. “If you don’t love a place, you tend to put your investments elsewhere. This is one where we loved the experience of building the stadium and having a brand new state-of-the-art facility. It worked out great, but at the same time you want to say, ‘Are there areas where you can make it even better?’”
The Eagles have joined with Gensler Architecture and Turner Construction for the revitalization project that will be completed during the 2014 offseason. The project has already begun, but will stall once the Eagles begin play this September.
Lurie, who was accompanied by Eagles president Don Smolenski, believes the renovations will enhance the fan experience while at games. One addition will be a new Wi-Fi system that will be able to accompany up to 45,000 fans at once with 607 access points. The system will be free of charge for fans to use.
“It’s a wireless network that will work in conjuncture with the robust distributive antenna system that we have to enhance the in stadium experience that will allow people to upload photos, stream videos, check fantasy football stats and scores and more,” Smolenski said.
The project also calls for an additional 1,600 seats to a stadium that currently has a capacity of 67,594. Lurie said the team wanted to add additional seats while remaining under 70,000 to keep the integrated fan experience intact. Approximately 800 seats will be added in the Southwest corner, 600 in the Northeast corner and 200 more seats in the Northwest corner.
In addition to the additional seating, two bridges will be constructed in the Southwest corner of the stadium to allow fans in the upper concourse and the club level to walk from the home side to the visitor side of the stadium. A new escalator will be added to the West side of the stadium to allow another stadium escalator to focus solely on the upper concourse.
In both the main and upper concourses, 34 murals of the team’s greatest players and memorable moments will be displayed. The lower concourse will feature the best players of different groups. For example, Section 124-125 will feature the Eagles’ best defensive backs of all time. Tom Brookshier, Bill Bradley, Herm Edwards, Andre Waters, Wes Hopkins, Eric Allen, Troy Vincent, Lito Sheppard and Brian Dawkins will be featured on the Section’s canvas.
“There have been tremendous players and big moments throughout our history,” Smolenski said. “As a part of this process, we were trying to find a way to recognize and honor [Veterans Stadium] throughout the stadium.”
Other groups that can be found on the lower concourse include a defensive line, wide receivers, tight ends, offensive line and linebacker’s canvas. The upper concourse will feature memorable moments throughout Eagles’ history due to a smaller canvas, which will replace gray walls previously found in the upper concourse.
With the renovations, Smolenski said entering the game will be easier for those last minute fans and tailgaters who struggle to enter the stadium on time. The three main entrance gates will be expanded so fans will be accommodated more quickly upon arrival and larger, more vibrant signs will be placed to direct fans around the stadium. There will also be expanded cooking capabilities installed at several concession stands to increase the capability and production of each stand.
Each suite will be upgraded with new carpeting and furniture for 2013. The suiteholders were provided the opportunity to choose images of the greatest moments and players in franchise history to display on the walls of their suite. The Touchdown Club will make the move inside the stadium from the HeadHouse Plaza for 2013. There will be more than 5,000 square feet of dining space and a 500 square foot bar that will include celebrity chefs.
The Pro Shop inside the HeadHouse Plaza will expand by 2,500 feet and will allow for fans to receive service as quickly as possible for what has been a crowded shopping experience in previous years, Lurie said.
Arguably the largest improvement to the stadium is the switch to HD, a service that was not available when the stadium was being built more than 10 years ago. Two new high-definition boards will be installed in both end zones accompanied with an upgraded sound system. Smolenski added that the clarity of the boards will be better than the clarity of the video boards at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, which opened in 2009.
The North End Zone video board will expand by nearly 100 feet to 27’ x 192’while the South End Zone video board will measure 27’ x 160’ and the stadium will have a total of 9,504 square feet for both video boards.
“Just watching the new HD boards will be fun as the game will be captured in a powerful way for fans,” Lurie said. “And celebrating players and pivotal moments in games is a wonderful way to showcase the Eagles proud history as a team.”
To be completed for the 2013 regular season:
• Historical imagery
• Entrance gate expansion and navigation
• Wi-Fi system
• Concession-stand upgrades
• Touchdown Club and suite revitalization
• Pro shop expansion
To be completed for the 2014 regular season
• High-Definition video board and LED ribbon-board Installation
• Seating bowl sxpansion and bridge construction
• Club level enhancements
Although the Eagles have had plans to renovate the stadium since 2010, commitments such as the 2013 men’s lacrosse championships (May 25-27) had stalled the project. The project will be completed following the end of the 2013 season, as five uninterrupted months are needed to conclude the two-year process.
“Our main goal when we began this project was to dramatically enhance the gameday experience for our fans,” Smolenski said. “They deserve an exciting and fun experience when they visit Lincoln Financial Field and we are committed to that.”