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.
May 7, 1998 - James Pecht writes: Crews will begin construction this year on the new Gerald J. Ford Stadium and all-sports facility to be located on the SMU campus. Although SMU has a long history with the Cotton Bowl (you mention it as "The House that Doak Built"), the university wanted to move its team back home to the Hilltop. The school announced plans for Ford Stadium last year (June 1997). It will seat about 30,000, will be horseshoe-shaped and will be a natural grass facility.
You can find more information on this new stadium by visiting the web site of the campus newspaper, The Daily Campus. Look in the Archives for the month of June. There you will find all the facts and a web picture of the Artist's rendering.
If I recall correctly, it's the first major stadium announcement by a Division I school for quite some time.
SMU To Break Ground On New Stadium
Kansas City, Mo. -- Southern Methodist University will break ground Sept.
10 for construction of the Gerald J. Ford Stadium and All-Sports Center on
the SMU campus.
Gerald J. Ford Stadium, which will host its first home game in September of
2000, will bring football back to the SMU campus. Located on the site of
Ownby Stadium, the new facility will have a horseshoe configuration with an
open south end zone. The architecture will be consistent with the
Collegiate-Georgian style of the entire SMU campus and will feature
traditional, yet state-of-the are design concepts. Initial design call for
32,000 seats, with the possibility of future expansion to 45,000.
The stadium includes more than 530 preferred club-level seats and 300 seats
in 23 luxury suites to be housed in a three-level press box. Field level
will be 24 feet below ground level, with nearly half of the stadium?s seats
sunken below grade, ensuring a smooth transition into the surrounding
neighborhood and the remainder of the SMU campus.
An All-Sports Center will be attached to the northwest corner of the new
stadium and will provide all Mustang student-athletes with several
* offices and locker facilities
* new state-of-the-art weight room
* sports medicine complex
* additional facilities for expanded women?s athletics
* ticket facilities
* permanent merchandise an novelty store
* Learning Enhancement Center
* Heritage Hall
CONTACT: Stuart Smith,
Director of Communications at Ellerbe Becket
Gerald J. Ford Stadium & All Sports Center
Gerald J. Ford Stadium, which will host its first home game in September of
2000, is bringing football back to the Hilltop! Located on the southeast
corner of campus, on the site of Ownby Stadium, Ford Stadium is designed to
provide a fully-modern, yet tradition-laden college football experience.
The layout of Ford Stadium is a "horseshoe"-shaped bowl, with the open end
facing Mockingbird Lane. This arrangement helps maintain the green space
so prevalent along Mockingbird in the Park Cities. The playing field is
recessed 24 feet below ground, the purpose of which is twofold: first, it
creates an intimate bowl, with 24 rows above ground and 24 below. Even the
last rows have great views and feel like a part of the action. Second, it
allows the Stadium to be a ?good neighbor? both to the rest of the campus
and surrounding areas--by recessing the playing field, the exterior wall is
held to between 35-40 feet instead of 60-75 feet tall. The open end of the
bowl also allows for sloped grass seating and an area for corporate tents,
creating a festival atmosphere. Ford Stadium will seat 32,000, distributed
among the general, club, and suite seats.
Ford Stadium?s location provides an ideal anchor on the southeast corner of
campus for the "Athletics Quad". With athletic facilities such as Moody
Coliseum, the Dedman Center, and the Morrison-Bell Track surrounding it,
the Stadium and adjoining All Sports Center will become the center of the
SMU athletics universe. This cohesive fit, which works into the overall
master plan for the university, helps to define the campus for students,
faculty, visitors, and recruits. Two new full practice fields are located
to the west of the Ford Stadium. The natural turf fields, with a
state-of-the-art below soil drainage system, should withstand the pressure
of 5-10 practices a week and wet weather during the football season.
Ford Stadium will be fully accessible to all patrons. The simple
configuration of the seating bowl will allow wheelchair-bound patrons to
enter directly through the same portals as other patrons, and immediately
wheel into locations at the top of the lower rows. These locations are
provided around the circumference of the bowl. In addition, the seating
section is designed so that a wheelchair-bound fan can see over a fan who
stands in front of them. All restrooms and concession stands are designed
to meet accessible standards. The All Sports Center and Press Box are
served with elevators to allow access to all levels of seating, offices,
training facilities, and the Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center.
Accessible parking spots are located closest to the building on the north
side, and accessible entrances are clearly marked with attractive signage.
The design of the Ford Stadium and All Sports Center is intended to reflect
the heritage of Ownby Stadium and the design vocabulary of Southern
Methodist University, yet also convey a sense of excitement for game days
and the athletics program. The familiar details of an SMU building are
found in the new facility?from the eclectic brick blend to the warm colored
stone and arched walkways?even a domed cap to the entry of the All Sports
Center. In addition, there are soaring glass windows facing the campus,
and a modern feel to the press box side which faces the field, bringing the
sights and sounds of football straight into the fans and media in the Press
Immediately to the west of the Ford Stadium will be the new Meadows Museum,
home to a renowned collection of Spanish art. The Museum, which will be
raised on a platform above Bishop Boulevard, will engage the pedestrian
visitor with a lush sculpture garden, wrapping the building on its north,
west, and south facades. The Stadium and All Sports Center will share a
paved plaza street with the east side of the Museum. Under the Museum will
be a two-story parking garage, with many of the spaces being dedicated to
Ford Stadium fans on game day.
Ford Stadium is composed of 28 seating sections in the lower bowl and 28
sections in the upper, fed by 28 portals leading from the concourse to the
bowl. Seven entry gates are distributed around the Stadium perimeter,
clearly marked for fans approaching by foot or by car. The Stadium
concourse will house restrooms and concessions between the vomitories on
the inside wall, and other guest services on the outside wall.
Concession stands are distributed along the concourse and include exciting
new food concepts. In addition to the traditional burgers, hot-dogs, and
popcorn, the concessions at Ford Stadium will feature pizza, Mexican, and
deli style fare. In addition, negotiations are beginning with local
restaurant franchisers for branded stands. Restrooms will be spacious and
numerous, exceeding both Uniform Building Code requirements and Texas"potty
parity" regulations. Other amenities will include a security center, fist
aid/medical treatment facility, novelty stands, a guest services booth, and
ATM and telephone banks. Club and suite patrons and the media headed to
the Press Box will have a separate entry and elevator lobby.
Ticketing operations will be housed in the All Sports Center, on the north
side, at ground level. Seven windows will be distributed on the north side
of the All Sports Center, and one window will be inside the facility. On
game days, satellite ticket booths will be open in the corners of the
Stadium. Parking spots will be available daily to the north of the All
Sports Center to facilitate advance ticket sales.
The scoreboard will be located in the south end of the bowl, above the
sloped grass seating, providing the best line of sight for everyone in the
The Club Level of the Press Box houses 540 patrons on five goal
line-to-goal line tiers with 22" wide seats. Each seat is padded and
upholstered for comfort, and includes a cupholder for convenience. A
catered buffet is served prior to game time, with patrons dining in a
lounge area overlooking the campus to the west or the playing field to the
The Executive Suite Level houses seventeen suites: sixteen for suite lease
holders, and one suite held by the university to entertain alumni and
guests. Each suite holds either 12 or 14 patrons in two tiers, and a drink
rail and comfortable furnishings allow for socializing, dining, and serious
football. Operable windows at the top of the glass bring in the noise of
the crowd; or, in inclement weather, the game can be enjoyed in a
comfortably sealed environment.
The Media Center Level houses booths for home and visiting coaches, radio
and television broadcast rooms and a scoreboard/operations center. In
addition, a three-tiered working press area offers 100 media professionals
the opportunity to plug in and work. Game statistics, a press workroom,
and a catered buffet will be available to all media professionals. The
Media Center level also houses six suites, outfitted identically to those
on the Executive Suite Level. The roof atop the Press Box provides ample
space for video and still camera photographers, as well as housing a
state-of-the-art sound system.
The All Sports Center, located on the northwest corner of Ford Stadium, is
open daily for regular campus operations, and will be populated by
students, student-athletes, coaches, faculty, and staff of the Athletic
Department. The field level houses football lockers, training facilities,
equipment areas, and team meeting rooms and auditoriums that double as
press briefing rooms.
Level 1 (at grade) prominently houses the sports hall of fame Heritage
Hall, off the entry, and the "Locker Room," a team novelty sales retail
store. Level 1 also includes track and soccer lockers, the lockers for a
new women?s sport, and a separate entrance lobby for the Altshuler Learning
Enhancement Center. Deliveries and loading occur on the north side of the
building, with a freight elevator to access all levels. This creates an
efficient loading process for the team when preparing for road games.
Level 2 houses offices for football, soccer, track, and the new women?s
sport coaches. It is also home to the Altshuler Learning Enhancement
Center--an academic services department offering tutoring, workshops, a
computer center, and study areas for the campus at large, not just
student-athletes. It?s proximity to the underclass quad of dormitories
makes it readily available until late evening.
Level 3 will house offices for the Department of Athletics, golf team
offices and lockers, and, as a jewel in the crown, a "Mustang Club"
overlooking the playing field. Mustang Club will be a pre-game experience
with catered food and drinks, a place to mingle with old alumni friends or
new business prospects. On non-game days, the University will use the
Mustang Club as a venue for campus events, or rent it for outside
receptions and gatherings.