GERALD J. FORD STADIUM
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.
In the summer of 2013, SMU added a new 233-seat Hall of Champions Club and seven new suites in time for SMU's move to the American Athletic Conference. Among the great features of the new Club and suites is their indoor/outdoor design which allows fans to enjoy the comfort of indoor amenities as well as the excitement of sitting out in the bowl and hearing the roar of the crowd and the hard-hitting action on the field. Renderings of the new areas can be seen here.
Those upgrades came on the heels of nearly $3 million in stadium improvements prior to the 2011 season, including upgrades to the football locker room and team meeting rooms as well as a new playing surface. Those renovations included a new team meeting room with stadium-style seating as well as renovated positional meeting rooms. Changes to the locker room included the creation of a new team lounge, as well as new lockers, updated graphics and audio/visual equipment.
Prior to the 2009 season, SMU installed new integrated video and audio system in Ford Stadium, with a Daktronics videoboard that measures approximately 32 feet high by 45 feet wide, and a custom sound system.
Ford Stadium was designed by the sports and entertainment design division of Ellerbe Becket, Inc., an architectural firm based in Kansas City, Mo.