Lincoln Financial Field is getting a makeover.
Philadelphia Eagles fans will watch a revamped team in a renovated stadium that will feature significant upgrades for the first time since it first opened in 2003.
"We have had discussions with season-ticket holders over the past couple of seasons to find out what was important to them," Eagles president Don Smolenski said in quotes provided by the team. "We listened and developed a plan of action. The revitalization of Lincoln Financial Field that will take place over the next two years is a direct result of those conversations."
"Our main main goal when we began this project was to dramatically enhance the gameday experience for our fans. They deserve an exciting and fun experience when they visit Lincoln Financial Field and we are committed to that."
Smolenski and owner Jeffrey Lurie will oversee a $125 million upgrade that will take place over the next two years.
The enhancements will include 1,600 new seats - 800 in the southwest corner, 600 in the northeast corner, 200 in the northwest corner - as well as new high-definition video screens in each end zone, free wireless internet access, images of the greatest plays and players in Eagles history displayed throughout the Linc, two new bridges connecting the home and visitor sides of the stadium and numerous suite upgrades that will feature new carpeting and furniture.
Also, more than 5,000 square feet of dining space will be added to the Touchdown Club, three entrance gates will be expanded and the Pro Shop merchandise store at Headhouse Plaza will be 2,500 square feet larger.
"It's kind of like a situation where you love a house, but you want to make it even better," Lurie said in quotes provided by the team. "I really appreciate all the work that was done with the fans because they know best. They're the ones sitting there for every game. They've invested a lot of money in season tickets and sponsorships. Over time, that adds up to a lot of investment in a franchise and this is a way to really make that investment more valuable."
The Eagles first played at the stadium in 2003 after spending the previous 33 years at Veterans Stadium. Although the Linc was regarded as a state-of-the-art facility at the time, teams such as Dallas, the New York Giants and Jets and Seattle have all built newer stadiums that are considered even more modern.
Dallas already has hosted a Super Bowl and this season's game will be played at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford. If that game - the first played in a cold-weather city stadium without a roof - goes off without a hitch, Philadelphia may be in the hunt to host the game in the future.
"Being ahead of the curve, that's what this is all about," Lurie said. "You can let it play out until you're really sort of behind the eight-ball with the stadium, but why not be ahead of the curve? We're just having our 10th anniversary (of the stadium) and it's a great place for people to come watch NFL football, concerts and things, but this is an opportunity for us to make it even better."
Eagles fans will get their first opportunity to watch the team in action at the Linc during training camp, which will be held in Philadelphia after a 17-year stint at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa.
Most of the the camp will be held at the NovaCare Complex, adjacent to the Linc, but the Eagles will hold five practices at the stadium on July 28, Aug. 5, Aug. 11, Aug. 17 and Aug. 26, respectively. Those workouts, which will begin at 12:30 p.m., are free and open to the public, though tickets will be distributed starting on June 18 at 2 p.m. Fans can get tickets through the team's website or Ticketmaster. Parking also be will free.
The Eagles expect large crowds at the practices and during the season because fan interest in the team is at its highest level in several years. Most of the excitement stems from Kelly and a roster that will feature a number of new players joining holdovers such as quarterback Michael Vick, running back LeSean McCoy, wide receiver DeSean Jackson and middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans.
Tight end James Casey, outside linebacker Connor Barwin and cornerback Cary Williams are among the newcomers expected to play major roles this season.
The Eagles open the regular season at Washington on Monday, Sept. 9, and then play San Diego in their home opener on Sunday, Sept. 15. Former coach Andy Reid and Kansas City visit the Linc on Thursday, Sept. 19.
"I haven't watched enough film of Dallas, the Giants and the Redskins to know (how the Eagles stack up with the rest of the NFC East)," Kelly said last week. "I'm not concerned with that right now. I'm concerned with our guys getting better every day, and that's what they've done. You're not going to put the cart before the horse and say, 'We're this.' I have no idea how we compare to somebody else. We compare ourselves to ourselves."
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