|Gerald J. Ford Stadium|
In the history of the SMU football program, June 13, 1997 and September 2, 2000, may stand out as the most significant days since the program's inception in 1915.
The first date is when University officials announced that significant funds had been raised to begin construction on the brand new Gerald J. Ford Stadium.
The second is the date that Mustang football returned to campus with the inaugural game in the stadium against Kansas. The state-of-the-art facility would not have been possible without the generous donations of Gerald J. Ford, Lamar and Norma Hunt, Ray L. and Nancy Ann Hunt, and Sherrill and Jo Ann Pettus, all of whom are SMU alumni.
Gerald J. Ford Stadium, finished in August of 2000 on the former Ownby Stadium grounds, has a horseshoe configuration with an open south end zone adjacent to Mockingbird Lane. The architecture is consistent with the Collegiate-Georgian style of the entire SMU campus and features traditional, yet state-of-the-art design concepts.
The stadium has a seating capacity of 32,000 with the possibility for future expansion to 45,000. The 32,000-seat configuration includes nearly 600 preferred club level seats and 240 seats in 24 spacious luxury suites housed in a custom, three-level press box. In addition to housing preferred club and suite seating, the air-conditioned press box provides excellent sightlines and comfortably accommodates more than 125 working print, radio and television media. The playing surface is 25 feet below ground level, with half of the stadium's seats sunk below grade, ensuring a smooth transition into the surrounding neighborhood and the remainder of the SMU campus.
Ford Stadium was designed by the sports and entertainment design division of Ellerbe Becket, Inc., an architectural firm based in Kansas City, Mo.