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Volume 21 No. 1
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Reviews and rants

What people had to say as new football stadiums opened for business

CenturyLink Field

“When you drive into this town and you look at [the Seahawks’ stadium and Safeco Field] and the skyline and the Space Needle, [it’s] phenomenal. ... I think it’s the nicest facility.”
— Al Michaels, during an October 2002 visit by “Monday Night Football”

Photo by: Getty Images

“We wanted something that was really unique to the Pacific Northwest and fit our culture, and help the downtown corridor.”
— Former Seahawks President Bob Whitsitt (September 2002)

“Wow. No bad seats in an open air stadium with killer views and well-stocked provisions. … Food stands throughout the stadium are adorned with Washington scenic vistas almost as stunning as the views from the spacious concourse.”
— Seattle Times (July 2002)

Working out the kinks: Despite the lure of the new stadium, the Seahawks still were short of a sellout at the opener. Improved on-field performance, however, soon made the Seahawks a hot ticket.

Ford Field

“It’s just so distinctive, with the building on the one side into the warehouse and Adams Street being maintained up there, all of the light coming in and the configuration of the stands. It really is quite an extraordinary stadium.”
— Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, during a visit to the stadium in October 2002

Fox game announcer Joe Buck called Ford Field “a world-class facility. … The problem, according to the Fords — and I think any fan here in Detroit — is how we get the team in here to be worthy of the architecture and all that’s gone into making this stadium what it is.”
— Joe Buck during the “Fox NFL Sunday” studio show, which broadcast from Ford Field in September 2002

“This stadium makes you feel like you’re a part of everything. What it has is a personality.”
— Lions Chairman William Clay Ford (August 2002)

Working out the kinks: At the inaugural game, fans complained about dusty seats, condensation dripping from the air conditioning and frigid temperatures. By the following game, those problems had been worked out.

Gillette Stadium

“The upper deck of CMGI Field should have windows to jump from.”
— Michael Gee of the Boston Herald (August 2002). Gee had written about the many troubled companies, such as Enron, TWA and Adelphia, that had naming-rights deals. Original Patriots naming-rights partner CMGI, whose stock had once reached a high of $160 a share, cratered at 50 cents a share. Gillette would step in to replace CMGI.

Photo by: Getty Images

“We have a real NFL stadium now. This is the fans’ reward: They have championship players to root for, and they don’t have to sit on benches to watch them.”
— Patriots owner Robert Kraft (August 2002)

“The size of the $325[M] stadium was what struck many. … Many fans came in, looked around at the wider concourses (70 feet, twice as wide as the old ones), the chairback seats, the 350 concession sites (up from 117), the 44 restrooms (up from 22) and the cup holders on the back of every seat, and gave their approval.”
— Providence Journal (August 2002)

Working out the kinks: Traffic at the first game left some fans steaming, as the drive down Route 1 was brutal. Also, fans attending the Oct. 13 Packers-Patriots game complained of long waits to use the men’s restrooms. By the next game, the team had converted two women’s restrooms into men’s restrooms and installed 150 portable toilets.

Reliant Stadium

“I don’t care how many sports facilities you’ve seen, anywhere in the world. If you walk out to the middle of Reliant Stadium and look up, your mouth is going to drop open.”
— Mac McCoy, project manager for design consultant HOK (September 2002)

“The stadium figures to remain a welcome refuge, a haven of comfort and hope for better days ahead [for the expansion team].”
— Houston Chronicle (August 2002)

“Before I got the Texans, the only autograph anyone wanted from me was when I signed their checks.”
— Houston Texans owner Bob McNair, who was frequently approached at the stadium’s opening and asked for his autograph (August 2002)

Working out the kinks: Access roads couldn’t handle the traffic, leading to gridlock. About a quarter of the stadium’s fans weren’t on hand for the opening kickoff, as some waited in traffic for two hours.

Source: SportsBusiness Journal/SportsBusiness Daily archives