The Detroit-based Smith Group, and architect and engineering firm, detailed plans for the new $315 million Ford Field recently. New amenities for the new 65,000-seat Detroit Lions stadium include better seating with a closer view of the field, diverse suites and the reuse of the former Hudson’s warehouse in downtown Detroit. The main Hudson’s retail building, long vacant, was destroyed in 1998 to make way for new stadium projects.

Ford Field is going up next door to the new Detroit Tigers baseball stadium, Comerica Park, which debuted this season.”There’s more emphasis on fan satisfaction in the new field,” says Randal Swiech, an engineer and vice president of Smith Group. “We’ve put more seats along the sidelines, instead of the end zone. We’ve got 120 suites, all different sizes and layouts. Some of them are situated to make it feel like you’re outdoors,” he told

The suites were constructed along an exterior wall of the former Hudson’s warehouse. The six-story building was incorporated into the stadium design.The inside of the warehouse will be transformed into offices, shops and restaurants, Swiech says.

Another major new design change, as closed football fields go, is a wide glass exterior wall, facing the Detroit skyline.”There aren’t many domed stadiums that can boast a view like this one,” asserts Swiech.The idea mirrors the Comerica Park open stadium, in which the city skyline is fully visible past the outfield wall.”Both projects make spectators part of the downtown experience,” he says.

To get more room, and not create a tall eyesore for the city, Swiech says the field is being installed 45 feet below street level. Patrons will walk into the stadium and down into the field.The stadium is set to open in 2002. The Lions are trying to break their current contract, which has them playing at the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac until 2005.

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