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Ford Field

Detroit, MI

Home of the Detroit Lions

3.3

3.8

Ford Field (map it)
2000 Brush St
Detroit, MI 48226


Detroit Lions website

Ford Field website

Year Opened: 2002

Capacity: 65,000

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Indoor Fun at Ford Field

The Detroit Lions have been playing home games indoors since they moved into the Pontiac Silverdome in 1975. Prior to the Silverdome, the team shared a ballpark with the city’s MLB team at Tiger Stadium. To many, the Lions and Tigers have always been linked in Motown, so it’s only appropriate that Comerica Park and Ford Field sit just across Brush Street from each other.

Ford Field is one of only four current NFL stadiums which are permanent indoor structures with no option of opening up to the elements. Once the Falcons move out of the Georgia Dome, then only the Rams and the Edward Jones Dome and the Saints with the Mercedes-Benz Superdome will be part of the weather-free club with Ford Field.

The stadium seats 65,000 fans, making the venue one of the smallest in the NFL, although the facility can expand seating to 70,000 for events like the Super Bowl (hosted in 2006) or NCAA basketball Final Four (hosted in 2009). Ford Field is also the host of the annual MAC Championship football game, Michigan High School football championships, and the annual Little Caesars Pizza Bowl which typically matches a Big Ten against a MAC team.

The great downtown location, and current assortment of offensive and defensive stars, has many fans in Detroit hoping that the day will come soon that the Lions may make their first ever Super Bowl appearance, as they are one of only four teams to never appear in the title game in the Super Bowl era (Texans, Jaguars and Browns are the others).

3.3

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    4

It is important for anyone with an upper level seat to get your food on the first level before heading to find your seat. The selection on the first level is far better than what you will find in the upper concourse.

There are a couple of options that draw on significant ethnicities in the city. You may want to try a gyro or Greek sausage from Pegasus, a classic Greektown tavern which was added to the concession menu for the 2013 season, near section 113.. Another excellent choice is the kielbasa ($8) from Poletown Sausage.

Other highlights include the hot dog emporium known as Extreme Dogs, which offers up several variations of loaded hot dogs for $7.50 each. Big Boy restaurants are located in a few separate locations offering the classic Big Boy Original, a double decker burger ($6). Pizza comes from Hungry Howie's for $9 a slice. Slow's BBQ has a new location near section 133, offering their fantastic sandwiches and also Michigan craft beers.

Gluten-free options can be found most notably at the concession stand near section 217.

The most abundant beers available will be Budweiser, Bud Light, and LaBatt, but there are some selections of tasty microbrews within Ford Field. The Corner Lounge in the upper level has a good selection, including Founder's All Day IPA, although a cup will cost you $11.50. There is also a dedicated Michigan Craft Beer concession near section 129. If you're not looking for a beer, then be sure to stop by the Guest Services desk to sign up to be a designated driver and receive a coupon for a free pop.

A bottomless soda in a souvenir cup goes for $7, which I suppose may be considered a deal if you polish off 3 or more, but then you'll spend most of the game making trips to the bathroom I would imagine.

Overall, the selection is pretty good, but the prices are a bit on the high side.

Atmosphere    3

I love that the Lions decided to move their stadium into downtown Detroit. It really makes a difference in the atmosphere even before you enter the building. Like all NFL games, there is quite a bit of security to enter the building, so expect to get a pat down, and you may need to allow extra time to get in, especially as you creep closer to kickoff. The NFL implemented a new bag policy in May 2013, so only clear plastic bags are allowed. You may want to review the full policy when deciding what to bring with you.

There's a bit of a mall feel inside Ford Field as you walk the concourse. The mall shops are replaced by concession stands, and there's also a very large team store for your shopping pleasure.

Ford Field offers about average leg room in its seats, all of which are blue plastic with cup holders. You should be fairly comfortable throughout the game.

In 2012, the team has hung banners to commemorate the fact that they won the NFL Championship in 1935, 1952, 1953, and 1957. There are also divisional championship banners hanging (1957, 1983, 1991, and 1993).

In 2009, the Lions organization honored former greats by adding a Pride of the Lions display. There are twelve original names and their former numbers are up on the wall near the south luxury suites. The players are Lem Barney, Yale Lary, Charlie Sanders, Joe Schmidt, Dutch Clark, Alex Wojciechowicz, Jack Christiansen, Lou Creekmur, Dick Lane, Bobby Layne, Doak Walker, and Barry Sanders. In 2013, Jason Hanson became the first member to join the ring of honor prior to be inducting into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Lions fans seem to have a special affinity for Ndamukong Suh, and in many ways Ford Field has become a defensive haven. In the tradition of other great Detroit players like Lou Whitaker and Joe Dumars, Suh is greeted with loud chants of "SUUUUUUUHHH!" when he is introduced and any time he makes a tackle or sack.

Fans also take great pleasure in singing the Detroit Lions fight song after a touchdown, a joyous tune known as Gridiron Heroes, sung by Theo "Gridiron" Spight.

Neighborhood    4

There are very rare occasions where you may be able to do a Tigers/Lions doubleheader, most likely if the Tigers are able to make a deep playoff push, like the 2012 World Series. Later in the season you may be able to find a doubleheader with the Detroit Red Wings, who play just a couple of miles away at Joe Louis Arena.

Elwood Bar & Grill is directly across the street from Ford Field, and is packed several hours before Lions games. Old Shillelagh is also a good option, and they offer a shuttle bus from their establishment to Lions games, so it is a good way to simplify your life. They also have a decent menu. The Detroit Pub has several TVs, and a good selection of beers with tasty wings, and may be a good spot to settle in, let traffic disperse and watch the late afternoon NFL slate.

Cheli's Chili Bar, owned by former Red Wing Chris Chelios, is a good place to get some inexpensive food amongst some hockey memorabilia. Chelios himself can often be found there and he is pretty good about interacting with sports fans. Hockeytown Cafe is also a very popular choice, and has received many accolades as being the best sports bar in Detroit.

Greektown is a relatively short walk away where you can visit the Greektown Casino, or have a great meal at Pegasus Taverna, the same provider of Greek food inside Ford Field.

Fans    3

You can't blame Lions fans if they seem a bit disgruntled. The team hasn't been able to claim to be NFL Champions since 1957, and they have made no appearances in the championship game in the Super Bowl era. Sure, they've had the pleasure of seeing one of the great running backs of all time in Barry Sanders, and Calvin Johnson is one of the best athletic specimens ever to play the wide receiver position. But even when things are going well, there is this feeling that it's not a matter of if things will go down hill, but when.

On game day, you'll find many fans rocking the Honolulu blue and silver jerseys in the stands. What's interesting is that there are almost as many future stars that never panned out jerseys (Charles Rogers, Jahvid Best, and the like) as there are jerseys for the true stars for the Lions (Barry Sanders, Chris Spielman, etc.).

Like most NFL stadiums, there will be fans who have had too much during their pre game tailgating celebrations, but in general you can expect fans to be friendly, with some good natured ribbing of fans sporting the opposing colors. It's certainly a stadium where visiting fans can feel safe and enjoy the game.

Access    3

Parking definitely can get expensive when you attend a Lions game at Ford Field. For the most part, you can expect to pay $20 for any parking within a 1/2 mile or so from the stadium. The garage directly next door will cost you $40. There is at least one lot charging $50 for parking about a block away from the stadium. If you arrive 3 hours before kickoff though you should be able to find street parking for free. Aim for Monroe Street at the corner with St Antoine, and there should be parking available. From there, it's about a 5 block walk - well worth the cost savings.

It can get a bit congested before, and especially after the game, but for a downtown location, the traffic moves pretty well. It helps that there is access to freeways in many different directions, and overall, this really is a smart place for these stadiums to have been built. Still, plan to leave yourself at least an hour before kickoff so you can navigate the traffic. I usually park on Woodward Avenue for Detroit Tigers games, so that I can have an easy exit on to the freeway after the game, although the cost is $20.

Concourses feel a bit narrow in parts, even walking around an hour before kickoff it is a little cramped, but it's certainly manageable and doesn't really detract from the overall experience. During halftime it can be absolute gridlock, with lines for concessions and to a lesser extent restrooms spilling into the concourse.

There are over 100 restrooms inside Ford Field, so you shouldn't have to wait in line or walk very far. If you do encounter a line, my suggestion would be to keep walking to the next bathroom. Some are quite a bit smaller than others.

Return on Investment    3

Upper level seats cost $50 for a game, or you can upgrade to all-you-can-eat seats for $65 per game, which is a pretty good value if you plan on sticking to the more basic staples of stadium food. There is also one section (section 315) which is reserved as the family section, and there is no alcohol or profanity allowed, a nice option for families. With ticketmaster fees, the cheapest ticket you'll get on the team site is over $57, although you should be able to find less expensive seats from many ticket resellers like ScoreBig or Vivid Seats.

Plan on spending $20 for parking, and $20 for something to eat and drink, and you're looking at a minimum of $100 for one person's experience. By NFL standards, this is fairly reasonable, but still sort of a tough pill to swallow for many fans.

Extras    3

One extra point for the signs along the concourse for each section, which also tell you what street you are on if you were outside. This really helps people who can easily get disoriented in a large stadium. Although, the sections could use better signage once in the seats, as I saw a lot of confused fans who sat in the wrong section, and then there's the long discussion and ticket comparison when the rightful ticket holder arrives.

I also liked that the fans have come to appreciate their defense. They Cheer their loudest for defensive stars and stops.

Call me a wimp if you like, but sitting outdoors for a game in December in Michigan is not my idea of a good time. I am perfectly happy that the Lions chose to build an indoor stadium.

Final Thoughts

Ford Field is a very comfortable place to see a game, and the team seems to have the young talent to keep their fans entertained for years to come. Do yourself a favor and visit Ford Field in the near future. Better yet, spend your Thanksgiving at Ford Field, an NFL tradition going back to 1934 when the Lions moved from Portsmouth, Ohio to the Motor City.

Ford Field First

I am making my first ever visit to Ford Field this September. Wonder if folks out there have any recommendations to add to Johnny's review above?

by paul | Aug 08, 2011 03:07 PM

RE: Ford Field First

Hey Paul, I assume this review was written before a boy named Suh was in town. I went to see the Jets here last year and the crowd was on fire. Who knew that having both an exciting offense and defense might liven up the crowd? In any case, I think a more recent evaluation might be in line as far as atmosphere and fans are involved.

by JonC | Sep 14, 2011 10:57 PM

RE: RE: Ford Field First

I will be there on Sunday, 9/18, and look forward to seeing Ford Field in all of its 2011 glory...

by paul | Sep 15, 2011 12:53 AM

Nice Writeup Paul

I visited Ford Field in the middle of the 2012 season, the same weekend as the World Series was in town and I was so impressed with the fans. After going down 0-3 in the world series, Detroit fans were still loud and on their feet.

Great suggestion about RUB Pub BBQ around the corner. This is a fun bar hidden just around the corner from Cheli's. My tip, walk right past Cheli's on to RUB for quick service and great food.

Overall, great review, very helpful for my first time!

by conradklank | Jan 04, 2013 11:01 AM

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Crowd Reviews

Roar of Ford Field

Total Score: 3.57

  • Food & Beverage: 5
  • Atmosphere 3
  • Neighborhood: 4
  • Fans: 3
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 3
  • Extras: 3

For years the Detroit Lions have been a punch line when it comes to the NFL. When Barry Sanders retired unexpectedly in 1999, there wasn't much to draw Lions fans to a game at the Pontiac Silverdome. But when Ford Field opened in 2002, fans had something new to get excited about - a new and modern stadium for their team.

Unfortunately mediocrity in good years, and the worst season in NFL history in 2008 (0 wins and 16 losses), have done little to turn the page on the lackluster history of the Detroit Lions.

In 2011, things seems to be looking up. A feeling of hope, combined with a lovely indoor facility makes for a very exciting Sunday afternoon in the Motor City.

Ford Field: Pride of the Detroit Lions

Total Score: 3.71

  • Food & Beverage: 5
  • Atmosphere 3
  • Neighborhood: 4
  • Fans: 2
  • Access: 5
  • RoI: 3
  • Extras: 4

The Detroit Lions embody mediocrity.

Poor upper management hirings, incompetent coaching, and a lack of player development have contributed to just one playoff win since 1963, the year owner William Clay Ford purchased the team. The losing has bred a generation of youth who adopt favorite squads outside of Detroit. A disconnect between fans and franchise remains an effect of negative consistency, but many believe the gap has closed a bit since Mr. Ford swapped the oversized, impersonal Silverdome, thirty miles outside the city, for a prime location downtown.

Erected next to Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers, is a modern structure composed mainly of brick, steel, and glass that occupies a full city block. Wonderfully picturesque, the stadium appeals to both classic and avant-garde tastes. The Brush Street entrance features a charming seven-story glass atrium, which allows natural light to seep in during a game. Two shelled-out J.L. Hudson warehouse buildings comprise the south wall of the stadium, contributing to the old-time feel. Eighty years old, they contain 132 luxury suites distributed among three levels that offer views of the playing surface. Other frills at Ford Field include 8,600 club seats, a club lounge, conference and convention areas, and two 27 x 98 foot high definition video scoreboards in each end zone.

After 40 years, Mr. Ford finally presented Lion fans a product far from mediocre.

New players have changed the game in Detroit

Total Score: 5.00

  • Food & Beverage: 5
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 5
  • Access: 5
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 5

If you haven't seen a game since Suh/Stafford/Johnson and crew have been there, do it today.

Forward Down the Field ...

Total Score: 4.00

  • Food & Beverage: 5
  • Atmosphere 4
  • Neighborhood: 3
  • Fans: 4
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 4

In a sport where manliness is sometimes measured by the coldness at an NFL game, I for one love Ford Field. I will take the indoor atmosphere, which is vastly underrated, over freezing my butt off any day!
The Lions have done what they can to put together a great product. Although the security is tight, every single time I have been, I have been welcomed to Ford Field. A little touch, but one that is appreciated. The best part of the game has to be when the Lions score a touchdown, and the live singer from the field, along with the crowd, begin to belt out the Lions' fight song, in the most barritone notes possible ... "Forward Down the Field ..."

Not LION, it's a great venue.

Total Score: 5.00

  • Food & Beverage: 5
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 5
  • Access: 5
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 5

If you haven't been to a Lions game, then it's time you do so. On December 11th, 2011, I LITERALLY stepped into Ford Field for the first time. On my way in, the patted us down. When I got inside, I stood there in amazement looking at how modern the concourse was. The seats were great, got a great view of the field, the PA Announcer Terry Braverman had a clear crisp booming voice. The food was delicious, I had their french fries. The atmosphere was very loud and fun. They played the song "Gridiron Heroes" literally after every touchdown. This was against the Minnesota Viking. The gift shop was awesome, I bought a Lions hat that was all light blue with big long strings attached. Plus, we won, so I had a great time. So go to Ford Field and have an awesome time, remember, I am not LION :0)

Ford Field

Total Score: 2.14

  • Food & Beverage: 1
  • Atmosphere 2
  • Neighborhood: 3
  • Fans: 2
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 3
  • Extras: 0

Visited Ford Field for a Lions game on the same weekend that the Giants were in town for the World Series. It was a fun sports weekend, but Ford Field left a lot to be desired. It is very sterile, as a lot of indoor facilities are, but I expected more. I can't believe the place hosted a Super Bowl. The Beer is great if you want to drink Budweiser. The fans are great, if you want to take a nap. You can tell that the place can get loud, but on the day I was there, the atmosphere wasn't so hot (and the Lions won that day). I did like that the stadium is right downtown and the tickets were very inexpensive.

A Decade of Football at Ford Field

Total Score: 3.14

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 3
  • Neighborhood: 4
  • Fans: 3
  • Access: 3
  • RoI: 3
  • Extras: 2

It has been more than a decade since Ford Field opened its doors, replacing the Pontiac Silverdome as the home of the Detroit Lions. The Lions are one of the few teams in the Super Bowl era to never appear in the Super Bowl (along with Browns, Texans, and Jaguars).

Unfortunately mediocrity in good years, and the worst season in NFL history in 2008 (0 wins and 16 losses), have done little to turn the page on the lackluster history of the Detroit Lions.

The stadium itself has a great downtown location, but lacks that certain amount of magic to really make the stadium a special place.

Lions Roaring

Total Score: 3.43

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 4
  • Neighborhood: 4
  • Fans: 3
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 3
  • Extras: 3

Great design with suites taking up one side, thus keeping the upper bowl close to the field. Terrible game experience, with no out-of-town scoreboard and loud music and commercials during most TV timeouts. No cheerleaders, which would help a bit with all those breaks in the action.

Neighbourhood has some classic bars and Comerica Park is right next door, but it is Detroit, so don't wander too far.

Find free street parking on Sunday morning, there is quite a bit within a few blocks and safe to walk.

Fans are loud when necessary but not capable of limiting their movements to the times when there is no action on the field.

Ford Field

Total Score: 4.00

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 4
  • Neighborhood: 4
  • Fans: 4
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 3

Tickets are still easy to come by so you can get a great gameday experience for a very low cost! A lot of good places to eat in the area and right across the street from the beautiful Comerica Field. I really enjoyed the stadium atmosphere, this place has a lot of potential if the Lions get start winning consistently.

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Local Food & Drink

R.U.B. BBQ Pub  (map it!)

18 W Adams St

Detroit, MI 48226

(313) 964-0782

http://rubbbqdetroit.com/

Old Shillelagh  (map it!)

349 Monroe St

Detroit, MI 48226

(313) 964-0007

http://www.oldshillelagh.com/

Hockeytown Cafe  (map it!)

2301 Woodward Ave

Detroit, MI 48201

(313) 965-9500

http://www.hockeytowncafe.com/

Elwood Bar & Grill  (map it!)

300 E Adams Ave

Detroit, MI 48226

(313) 962-2337

http://www.elwoodgrill.com

Cheli's Chili Bar  (map it!)

47 E Adams Ave

Detroit, MI 48226

(313) 961-1700

http://www.chelischilibar.com/home.html

Local Entertainment

Detroit Opera House  (map it!)

1526 Broadway St.

Detroit, MI 48226

(313) 961-3500

http://www.motopera.org

Greek Town Hotel & Casino  (map it!)

555 E Lafayette Blvd

Detroit, MI 48226

(888) 771-4386

http://www.greektowncasino.com/

Lodging

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