On June 3, 2002, Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie, flanked by a rendering of Lincoln Financial Field as the construction of the actual stadium continued in the background, announced that Lincoln Financial Group would be the stadium naming rights partner.
"For the first time in our long and storied history, we are about to have a home of our very own," Lurie declared.
It's almost inconceivable to think that for the vast majority of its existence, the Philadelphia Eagles were a "secondary tenant" whether it was at Shibe Park, Franklin Field, or Veterans Stadium. On that day in 2002, Lurie described Lincoln Financial Group as the ideal partner, a relationship "forged from similar visions and shared philosophies." Lurie praised the leadership of Lincoln Financial Group not only for its success in the business world but also for its commitment to philanthropy and the improvement of the City of Philadelphia.
Leadership has also been a strong foundation of Lurie's tenure as the winningest owner in Philadelphia Eagles history. Fans have to look no further than the stadium that opened just over a year after Lincoln Financial Group joined as the stadium naming rights partner. Early on Thursday afternoon, Lurie walked out of the Eagles' locker room at Lincoln Financial Field and down the hallway toward the tunnel where the players emerge from on Sundays during the season. Along the way, there are tributes to the championship teams of the past from Steve Van Buren and the back-to-back NFL Champions of 1948 and '49 to the 2004 team that gave Philadelphia its first Super Bowl appearance in a quarter of a century. As Lurie strolled past a gray Philadelphia Eagles sign that lights up in neon colors on gameday, there is one final panel to the left. It's a tribute to the Super Bowl Champions of the 2017 season, with Lurie holding the Vince Lombardi Trophy that he promised he would deliver when he purchased the team in 1994.
Lurie headed out of the tunnel in the South end zone and headed across the perfectly manicured grass field, wet from a steady rain, toward a stage. It was on that platform Thursday where he announced that Lincoln Financial Group will remain the stadium rights partner through the 2032 season. This time, however, there wasn't a drawing in the background draped behind Lurie. In the rafters along the eastern side of the stadium hung the World Champions banner that was raised, coincidentally, on a stormy, rainy night last September.
Lurie had a vision to provide the best for the fans. He made it a reality. But the job is far from done.
"It's great to have such a successful team and family with our football team. To bring a Super Bowl Championship to Philadelphia has been a dream come true. We want to win more and more and I expect us to," Lurie said in an exclusive interview. "I'm proud of the fact that we've been able to really keep Lincoln Financial Field in elite fashion. It is a fan-friendly, intimate environment with great, great sightlines, great technology. Nothing works without great fans and we have the best."
Check out the images from the best Eagles moments in the history of Lincoln Financial Field.
Lurie has evolved during his time with the Eagles and the same can be said for Lincoln Financial Field. A state-of-the-art facility when it opened in 2003, Lincoln Financial Field underwent an extensive $125 million revitalization project that started in 2012 and finished two years later. New video boards, LED ribbon-board displays, two upper concourse bridges, additional seats, updated graphics, and an integrated Wi-Fi system were all part of making sure that Lincoln Financial Field remains one of the premier venues – not just for sports – in the world.
What started as a handshake agreement between the Eagles and Lincoln Financial Group in 2001 is now, as team president Don Smolenski called, "an amazing partnership and friendship" that will last for at least 13 more years.
"They are like family to us. We match each other's values," Lurie said. "We do so much philanthropic work together off the field. It's just a perfect match of two companies. I'm really proud of our relationship."
Smolenski noted that Lincoln Financial Group has "stood by our side" for 82 Eagles victories, including two conference title games, 28 high-profile concerts, 12 Army-Navy Games, Temple football, top national and international soccer matches, an NHL Stadium Series showdown, and the first sold-out comedy show at an NFL stadium hosted by Philadelphia's own Kevin Hart.
Lincoln Financial Field is not just an iconic symbol of the City of Philadelphia, but serves as a hallmark of what Lurie has provided for this franchise since taking over at the helm.