The Lions yesterday "gave a first glimpse" of the $100M in renovations coming to Ford Field this offseason in front of a "small audience of approximately 250 corporate sponsors, suite and season-ticket holders," according to Justin Rogers of the DETROIT NEWS. The "crown jewel of the project is the much-anticipated upgrades to the team's digital scoreboards." The "undersized and outdated end zone scoreboards are being replaced by a pair of high-definition displays, measuring over 6,000-square foot each." The Daktronics boards "will be 152 feet in length." Flanking the main displays "will be four additional video boards, measuring 13-feet by 59-feet." Combined, the continuous display is 270 feet and will be 330% larger than the previous models. Ford Field also will be "undergoing extensive renovations." The Lions consulted with Detroit-based Rossetti, the original architectural firm for the stadium, "seeking opportunities to enhance and modernize the facility." A total of 210,000 square feet, "from large social areas to suites, will be renovated." Lions President Rod Wood said that there will "not be a single square foot of premium space in the stadium that won’t be upgraded." Meanwhile, a few of the suites are being "removed and replaced by new seating options." One area will be "replaced by new, smaller suites." The second area will be "replaced by a club called 'The Lounge,' which will pay homage to Detroit's underground music scene." On the main concourse, the Corner Lounge is being "repacked as the Corner Bar, with décor that will pay tribute to Briggs Stadium, the former home of the Tigers and Lions." The centerpiece of the bar "will be a multi-screen video wall and LED scoreboard, framed by vintage lockers and scoreboard" (DETROIT NEWS, 2/16
DRAWING INSPIRATION: Wood said that the Lions "drew inspiration" for the project from venues including U.S. Bank Stadium, NRG Stadium, Lucas Oil Stadium and AT&T Stadium. In Michigan, Kyle Meinke reported this is the "biggest investment the Lions have made in Ford Field since the facility opened 15 years ago, and it will take all offseason to complete." The club has "declined to host concerts and other events in the coming months to ensure the project is finished" by opening day of the NFL season (MLIVE.com, 2/15). Wood said that Lions Owner Martha Ford was "heavily involved" in the renovation process, "down to picking the fabric for some of the couches in the suites." Wood noted all renovations will be finished in time for the '17 preseason, and Ford Field's seating capacity will be "very similar if not exactly the same" as it was in '16 (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 2/16).
In Houston, Hunter Atkins notes the Astros in '17 will "expand netting at Minute Maid Park to run the length of both dugouts, following a trend throughout baseball the last two seasons to protect fans." The netting above the dugouts "will be 12 feet high and behind home plate 32 feet high, extending from section 112 to 126." Netting above the dugouts will be "removed during batting practice so fans can still pursue autographs and put in place by first pitch." The Astros said that the new material "relies on a smaller mesh that allows better visibility" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 2/16).
STICKING TO THE PLAN: In Minneapolis, Megan Ryan writes MLS Commissioner Don Garber "wasn't too concerned" about expansion club Minnesota United possibly having to play at TCF Bank Stadium through a second season "because of various holdups" with their new venue. The St. Paul stadium could open in '19 instead of the original plan to have it ready by '18. Garber: "They've got a great plan. Ground has been broken. That's always a good sign. I think they'll do what they need to do to get it done, and I'll look forward to that" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 2/16).
AMERICA'S PASTTIME: Navy AD Chet Gladchuk said that the Red Sox and Yankees have "both submitted formal bids to host the Army-Navy football game" at Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium, respectively. Those are "among several bids that have been submitted." Gladchuk said that it is "far too early to speculate on which cities and facilities will ultimately be chosen." Philadelphia is hosting the '17 Army-Navy game at Lincoln Financial Field, which "brings an end to the current contract" (Annapolis CAPITAL GAZETTE, 2/16).