DETROIT: Ford Field Tour !

5 Feb

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Superbowl XLVI takes place in Indianapolis this Sunday February 5th, football is a popular topic this week. With that in mind we thought we’d take advantage of one of the behind-the-scenes tours of Ford Field. Walk Up Tours are available on Mondays and Fridays from January to July at 11am and 1pm. We parked in the structure next to Elwood Bar and Grill, walked across the street to the stadium and purchased our tickets.  When the group was fully assembled our lovely tour guide began, as she spoke it was apparent she was not a local. Though she was born across the pond as they say, she has been in Detroit for 16 years, and has been at Ford Field since the beginning. She is a wonderful hostess who possesses a wealth of information about the stadium.

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We began on street level; The 1920’s Hudson’s warehouse that was located on the stadium property now makes up the entire south wall of the structure, giving the stadium a bit of personality. The ground level is designated for restaurants, concessions and retail and plays homage to Detroit’s past. When J.L Hudson’s flagship store on Woodward was imploded in 1998 the bricks were recovered, cleaned and stored, then re-used to build Ford Field, how cool is that?  A 7-story atrium is within the warehouse, at the southeast corner is a glass wall which provides a panoramic view of the Detroit skyline, one of the building’s many unique features. I couldn’t believe how big this place is, there is a ton of natural light flowing in through immense skylights, large glass windows and open corners giving it a light open feeling, almost like being outdoors. There are 132 suites located on four levels, with one level of Club seating. There are eight varieties of suites seating from 8-30 people. We got to check out a medium to large one, Wow! The view: awesome, great amenities, and best of all the seats are Lincoln Navigator seats, really! Talk about comfort; Visteon manufactured all of the seats for the stadium. It’s so much fun to do this kind of tour; we saw Press Row, fancy lounge areas and the top-secret NFL Instant Replay room.  You overlook the entire field from up here, I have to admit I was in awe, it’s really a remarkable venue.

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Opened in 2002, it took 32 months to construct at a cost of $550 million, it seats 65,000 people. They say it has the best sight-lines of any football stadium in the US, with no obstructed views. Because of the long cold Detroit winters a permanent dome was the best design. The structural-steel supported dome with its two 18 ft wide concrete columns is quite a sight!  It’s interesting that the End Zones at Ford Field are East and West instead of the traditional North and South, special permission had to be granted from the NFL . The reason for that is sunlight can be a distraction to players, so precautions were taken to prevent that.

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Next we took an elevator down to what is the most coveted portion of the tour: the locker room and of course the FIELD. We got off the elevator in what is the original basement of the 1920’s warehouse, pretty amazing eh? First up: the Visitors locker room, nice, cherry wood makes up the actual lockers, indoor/outdoor carpet, nice; the Lions locker room, whoa, it’s huge. Same basic amenities just housed in a much bigger space, there are 11 locker rooms in all. Time to head out onto the field, there are actually two tunnels, one for the visitors, so of course it’s smaller, and one for the home team; that’s the one we took. The tunnels, made of concrete slope downward; the field is actually 40 ft below street level. There is an excitement as you walk through, then all at once you see it, a vast green expanse stretching out before you, the size of. …..well…… the size of a football field!  I looked around at my tour companions and every single one had a smile on their face. I don’t know what it is, but something about being in a place like this really brings out the kid in all of us.

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We have been wanting to try a new place that opened on Park behind the Fox called Hot Taco. With neighbors like Town Pump, Centaur, Park Bar, Bucharest Grill and Cliff Bells, this is quickly becoming a popular destination district. The diminutive, contemporary space offers a variety of tacos and burritos designed for hit and run dining. A chalkboard and paper menus on the counter describe your options; the fillings are made up of interesting combinations of flavors. They offer three different tacos on a 3 for $6.00 special; the Hot Taco Chicken, Pork and Chorizo, that sounded good to us. We started with an order of chips and asked for a sample of each of their available sauces: Salsa Verde, Chipotle Sour Cream and Mango Salsa. Tacos are wrapped individually in small sheets of foil, we ate ours sitting at a counter along the window overlooking Park.  We enjoyed all of them, I think the Chorizo was my favorite. Open from 11am to 2am you satisfy your taco craving almost anytime it strikes.

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