Pro Sports Stadium Review: Ford Field

Ford Field is home to the NFL’s Detroit Lions. The venue is designed as a multi-purpose indoor stadium and was purpose built right in Downtown Detroit in an effort to begin the revitalization process of that area.  It is actually owned and operated by the Detroit/Wayne County Stadium Authority, and is a premier professional sports stadium.  The seating capacity for a regular season game is roughly 65,000 people, but can be expanded to 70,000 for playoff games, and up to 80,000 for basketball. Ford actually purchased the naming rights to the field for $40 million in a deal that is to last for 20 years. Interestingly enough, a member of the Ford family has actually owned a controlling interest in the Detroit Lions franchise since 1963.

Graphic via wikipedia

Initially, Ford Field was to be an outdoor stadium and was to coincide with the opening of the Detroit Tigers Comerica Park, which opened in 2000. The stadium itself is a replacement of the outdated and aging Pontiac Silverdome. The Field actually opened 2 years later, after going through a redesign stage. The design of the stadium itself makes use of a six-story warehouse that was constructed on the site back in the 1920s. This feature enabled the stadium to incorporate a seating design that is rather unique around the NFL. Most of the suites at Ford Field are actually located right inside the Hudson Warehouse, which is situated along Ford Field’s southern sideline. The lounges and premium club seats are also located in that direction as well. Most of the grandstand seats, then, are situated along the northern sidelines and on both end lines. This leaves a gap in the stadium’s upper half, which is in the both the southwest and southeast corners.

As opposed to many indoor stadiums today, Ford Field is built in such a way that a great deal of natural light is actually allowed in. This is because of the noticeable skylights and enormous glass windows that have been incorporated into the open corners.  In addition, the windows along the ceiling line are actually frosted over to imitate the automobile factories that formed the backbone of the Detroit area. This gives the stadium a bit of local flavor that many around the country can appreciate, in an age where most modern stadiums are stale and boring. The southwest corner of the field is also where the lower seating bowl and concourse are situated. Year round sunlight is permitted to enter there, which also enables fans in that area to see spectacular views of the area that is Downtown Detroit. It was decided that the stadium should be an imposing site that took away from the skyline already present in the city, so the playing field and the lower level of the seats were actually set to be built below street level.

An interesting note is that Ford Field is one of only 10 stadiums in the entire NFL that has end zones built to run East and West. The NFL actually forbids this in stadiums that allow sunlight in because it could be a distraction to one team on the field at all times. In this case, however, the NFL issued a waiver as to not do the modification of the warehouse, which was not really in the cards. As it is, the issue is a moot point, because even during day games, natural sunlight only reaches as far as the sidelines, so players are not affected.  It is a great stadium to both play and watch an NFL game at.

Graphic via wikipedia

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