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Don Smolenski reflects on the 20th anniversary of Lincoln Financial Field 

Lincoln Financial Field

Every nook and cranny of Lincoln Financial Field and its 43 acres of footprint was carefully considered to, more than anything, make it the very best experience for every fan entering for an Eagles game, a huge concert, an international sporting event – anything that 69,000-plus fans would enjoy.

A world-class venue in world-class Philadelphia. A stadium that would help the Eagles win World Championships. That was the Eagles' pitch to the State of Pennsylvania and the City of Philadelphia way back when – on May 7, 2001 when ground broke on the very first stadium of their own in the then 68-year history of the franchise.

"Looking back over the last several years, I can tell you how proud I am of where we are as a franchise in this league," Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie said at the time. "To think of the early days, the facilities, where the team trained, where the people worked, how impossible it was to attract top players, top coaches. We were not one of the elite franchises.

"I look in the mirror, and I know how dedicated and committed we've been in really wanting to create the model franchise in the NFL. Really, everything we've done with this stadium is about making sure the average fan has the best experience in the country."

Missions accomplished.

A little less than 28 months after construction began, the stadium hosted its first event, an international friendly soccer match between Manchester United and FC Barcelona on August 3, 2003. The "Inaugural Game" at Lincoln Financial Field, on Monday, Sept. 8, featured the Eagles and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Sylvester Stallone and great fanfare and that has only increased in the years that have passed.

Here we are, in 2023, celebrating the 20-year anniversary of Lincoln Financial Field, which has been every bit of a "world-class stadium" and more in those two decades. Home to four NFC Championship Games (the Eagles are 3-1 in those contests), Army-Navy weekends, major international soccer games (the FIFA World Cup arrives in 2026), sold-out concerts of many different genres, Monster Jam weekends, and so, so, so much more, Lincoln Financial Field has stood the test of time.

"Twenty years of Lincoln Financial Field is amazing and there are definitely times when it feels like it was just yesterday because I can remember certain aspects of the construction. I think it's been an incredible building that has been brought to life each and every week during the football season and with all the other events we have throughout the year," Eagles President Don Smolenski said. "We set out to create a world-class facility for a world-class city and I think that's been evident by all the events – and the great variety of them – that we've had and I think the building also evolved through the years.

"Jason Miller, our senior vice president of facilities, and his team have done a great job of keeping the stadium new and updated and looking great and remaining on the cutting edge of technology and the fan experience."

The Eagles have done everything possible to stay ahead of the curve, investing hundreds of millions of dollars into the project, which originally cost a reported $512 million. With more than 1.7 million square feet of building area and stadium dimensions that measure 790 feet by 820 feet and that included more than 4,000 stadium workers to complete, the Eagles' crown jewel remains a premier destination.

It has been a great home-field advantage for the Eagles, who have compiled a 102-70-1 regular season record at Lincoln Financial Field and an 8-4 playoff record, and it has been a perfect partnership with Lincoln Financial Group, which extended its original deal in 2019 for an additional 14 seasons.

"Our long-standing partnership with the Philadelphia Eagles allows us to further connect with the fans and the community in support of our mission to help others achieve financial protection and security," said John Kennedy, executive vice president of Lincoln Financial Group, president of its wholesale franchise, Lincoln Financial Distributors, Inc. (LFD) and head of brand. "With 20 years of partnership and pride, I am confident that Lincoln will continue to make an impact alongside the Eagles both on and off the field."

And how have the fans responded? They've provided feedback to Smolenski throughout the years and it has been passionate and positive and appreciative.

Duly noted.

"People ask me what I think is the best facility to watch football games in in the National Football League and a lot of times I come back to ours," Smolenski said. "There are different elements from buildings across the league because there are so many state-of-the-art buildings, but Lincoln Financial Field, with its sightlines, you're right on top of the action, and that's what I hear from our fans.

"You can see the game whether you are in the lower bowl, the mid-level, or the upper level, and the fans really appreciate that. We have worked hard to make it great for the fans and they have provided the feedback that they appreciate that. It has been everything that we hoped it would be. Our vision for what Lincoln Financial Field would be – a state-of-the-art facility that would bring world-class events to a world-class City has come true."

Celebrate the 20th anniversary of Lincoln Financial Field with photos of some of the best moments captured inside the stadium!

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