The Philadelphia Eagles are so proud of their $125 million stadium renovation project that they conducted two identical tours for reporters and photographers within two months.
The second came Friday, when team President Don Smolenski gushed about how much the fan experience will be enhanced. He did not try to hide his excitement about the entire endeavor, which took more than two years to complete — actually the finishing touches are still being applied — and has increased the seating capacity to nearly 70,000.
That sounds as good a place as any to start.
A huge part of the project was the addition of 1,626 seats, most of which are in the newly constructed northeast and southwest corners of Lincoln Financial Field. Bridges were added to those corners to better help fans get from one side to the other. Previously, those corners were open, meaning all fans had to go to ground level to cross over.
While seated outdoors, fans instantly will be struck by the new video boards above each end zone. They're high-definition now, and connected to spectacular LED ribbon-board displays that traverse the entire outdoor portion of the stadium. In all, more than 15,000 square feet of new video board area was added, giving the stadium an electric look.
Inside, in the concourses and SCA and Panasonic stadium clubs, high definition still rules, with better-quality monitors installed, along with upgraded furniture, carpeting, imagery, signage and food options.
In all, 300 construction workers and 52 sub-contractors were used.
"In reality, we've invested in the building every year since it's been open," Smolenski said, "because it's our home and it's Philadelphia's home. Like your own home, you're always putting money into your own home. You're always investing.
"We're always looking, like what else can we do to make the experience [better] and have it be for the fans' convenience," he said. "So it's a continuing investment."
Smolenski emphasized that none of the upgrades had anything to do with a potential Super Bowl bid that owner Jeffrey Lurie last year hinted he might make if he and the league determined last February's New York/New Jersey Super Bowl to be a success.
"That really wasn't a driver at all," Smolenski said. "This has all been about our fans and the fans in Philadelphia, their home. We think that the building was in a great place for a Super Bowl bid before, but certainly bringing it up to state-of-the-art with the technology makes us right up there as qualified as any other venue in any other city."
To that end, there is no specific plan in place for a Super Bowl bid, which would have to be a cooperative effort involving the city, corporate sponsors, regional industry leaders and possibly surrounding municipalities.
Smolenski on Friday stood on the field and looked around in awe, more than content for now to just contemplate the joy (not to mention all the added income) the many stadium changes are expected to bring.
"I get goose bumps just kind of walking around," he said. "You know, during this whole process, it's been 18 months of work. We've had unbelievable support from all the construction workers. At times we had to go to a double shift to kind of catch up on some of the rain that we've had, but I've tried to appreciate them and tried to appreciate the process and just sit down and say, 'What's it going to be like for a fan to be sitting in these seats and looking at the game?'
"You get excited about it and you hope that they're as excited about it as you are, and I think they will be," Smolenski said. "And I think when they come [to the team's preseason home opener] on [Aug.] 21st, it's a night game, the drama of the LED boards and the HD video boards at night is just going to be different, and so I'm anxious to talk to them, I'm anxious to see them and what their reaction is, because it's been an investment for them, based on their feedback."
Yes, the Eagles have spent $125 million, but that's a fraction of the untold revenues they hope to generate in the months and years to come as a result of the 21st century upgrades.
ABOUT THE UPGRADE
The inside and even some of the outside of Lincoln Financial Field will hardly be recognizable to those who haven't been there in the last couple of years. That's because of the state-of-the-art upgrades the Eagles have made to keep their home on the cutting edge of technology and fan comfort.
Here are the highlights:
• 1,626 new seats. These additions bring the seating capacity to 69,176.
• Massive club renovations, including murals and historic photos, upgraded furniture and carpeting and new HD video monitors and food options.
• An increase of 15,630 square feet of upgraded HD video boards throughout the stadium. They boast the highest resolution in the NFL.
• Massive solar panels on the north parking lots that could generate up to 35 percent of the electricity needed to operate the stadium and also provide shade and bad-weather shelter for hundreds of vehicles.
• A total of 1,185 HD TV monitors around the stadium.