Renovations making the Linc more fan-friendly

Photos of Eagles greats now grace the walls at Lincoln Financial Field. Team president Don Smolenski said nothing beats being at a live event.
Photos of Eagles greats now grace the walls at Lincoln Financial Field. Team president Don Smolenski said nothing beats being at a live event. (DAVID M WARREN / Staff)
Posted: September 15, 2013

When the Eagles play their first home game of the Chip Kelly era Sunday against the San Diego Chargers, fans will see the first part of a major two-year revitalization of Lincoln Financial Field.

The $125 million project is scheduled to be completed before the 2014 regular season, but the first phase, which cost $35 million, will be on display Sunday.

It includes entrance-gate expansion and navigational improvements; a Wi-Fi system; concession-stand upgrades; expansion of the ProShop; Suites and Touchdown Club revitalization; and historical imagery - huge images of many of the Eagles' greats along the walls.

Eagles president Don Smolenski gave reporters a tour on Friday.

This is the 10th anniversary of Lincoln Financial Field and the 11th Eagles season there. The Linc opened on Aug. 3, 2003.

"All the products we embarked on this year and next year were based on feedback of our fans over those years, and we tried to take feedback and incorporate it through the various components around the building," Smolenski said.

One of the first completed projects was an expansion of the three main gates, which take in about 55,000 fans. More entry points allow fans to get in quicker.

The Wi-Fi system will allow faster Internet use.

"This system can handle 40,000 simultaneous uses," Smolenski said. "We haven't seen that level of usage at the Super Bowl or any other outdoor venue of this size, but over time it will get there. And this system will grow with it and hopefully continue to accommodate that."

He said that during an Eagles open practice this summer at the Linc, there were as many as 10,000 simultaneous uses.

What is most noticeable are all the pictures of Eagles players along the main concourse.

They are arranged by position. For example, there is a quarterback wall with images of Donovan McNabb, Randall Cunningham, Ron Jaworski, and Norm Van Brocklin.

In addition, there are life-size images of players in the elevators, including one of Brian Dawkins ready to make a tackle.

Along the way to the upper-level seats are images of some of the great plays in Eagles history, such as Herm Edwards' fumble recovery in the Miracle at the Meadowlands.

The projects that will be completed by the 2014 regular season include:

Two new high-definition video boards will be installed in the end zones with an upgraded sound system. Also, the LED ribbon-boards along each side of the stadium will be expanded.

The installation of 1,600 new seats.

Two bridges will be built to allow fans in the upper concourse and the club level to walk from the home side to the visitor side of the stadium.

Club level enhancements.

With competition from large-screen, high definition televisions that make watching the game from the comfort of home an appealing alternative, teams are working to make stadiums more and more fan-friendly.

Smolenski said that he has found that nothing beats being at a live event.

That said, professional sports teams have to work harder to keep fans coming, and it has been a hectic offseason for the Eagles. They will be even busier before next season begins.

Contact Marc Narducci at Follow @sjnard on Twitter.

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