Industry News

Detroit Lions fans concerned about Ford Field upgrades

Fans of NFL American football franchise the Detroit Lions have expressed concern that the renovation project to upgrade Ford Field could prevent the team from signing top players.

Lions president Rod Wood said that the franchise’s management remains committed to paying at least market value for players to build a competitive roster.

The Lions’ home stadium is set to undergo a $100m (£80m/€94m) renovation. Ford Field will see vast changes, including new video boards and an upgraded sound system.

“I’m happy to clear that up,” Wood said, according to the Lions’ official website. “There’s this thing the National Football League has called a salary cap [$167m per team in 2017], first of all. Every team has to live within the salary cap. Year to year, you’re going to spend more cash than the salary cap. Other years, you’re going to spend under the cap.

“Over a four- or five-year period, you’re spending essentially at the cap. Money that we’re putting into the stadium isn’t money that could be allocated to the players. The salary cap dictates what you can spend.

“It’s not like we’re taking money away from a free agent that we might have been able to add to the team, to do things to the stadium.”

Wood said that stadium improvements, which include correcting Ford Field’s long-running Wi-Fi problem, help the Lions compete for fans.

Verizon, the wireless provider that installed the initial $4m service in 2013, upgraded the stadium’s Wi-Fi capabilities early in 2017.

Since opening in 2002, Ford Field has been considered one of the top sports venues in the US after 15 seasons of hosting Lions home games and numerous other events.

“The things we’re doing to the stadium are required,” Wood said. “Not only to keep the fans that we have but to attract the younger fans who want to come to the game and have access to Wi-Fi and experience their fantasy football experience and stay in touch with people through social media, are things we couldn’t do if we didn’t enhance the stadium.”

Wood also expressed his desire to bid on hosting the NFL draft, which is held next month in Philadelphia, and possibly another Super Bowl. Ford Field hosted Super Bowl XL in 2006.