Lincoln Financial Field – Philadelphia Eagles
Fly Eagles Fly
The Philadelphia Eagles are a polarizing NFL franchise, but regardless of feelings toward the team, a visit to Lincoln Financial Field should rank high for football fans. The team was born in 1933 and before the Super Bowl era, Philadelphia won three league titles. Perhaps the most famous was the 1960 championship led by all-time great Chuck Bednarik, who helped the Birds defeat the Green Bay Packers, the only playoff defeat handed to Vince Lombardi. Philadelphia reached a pair of Super Bowls in 1980 and again in 2004, however they were defeated in each as their championship-starved fans await an end of season crown. That last appearance in 2004 represented the culmination of the Andy Reid/Donovan McNabb era, a highly successful run with several playoff appearances.
The Eagles spent time at different home fields throughout their early history in Philadelphia until settling into the monstrosity known as Veterans Stadium in South Philadelphia for nearly 30 years. That concrete, awful doughnut has thankfully since been demolished and in 2003, the Eagles moved across the parking lot into Lincoln Financial Field. This stadium is a great place for football and a terrific representation of the city and team. For visiting fans looking to step into enemy territory, yes, you might get haggled, but the narrative of the “mean fans” in Philly is overplayed and this place is not much worse than what is seen in many other NFL stadiums.
Food & Beverage 5
For the best food options at The Linc, start in the north end zone plaza, where most fans enter into the stadium. This festive introduction features an area with several unique food carts including Brent Celek’s “Prime Stache,” which serves up a mean cheesesteak ($15). Bassett’s provides several BBQ options, while one spot over is a tent for McNally’s Tavern and their famous “Schmitter” sandwich ($12). To be able to devour this beast, one must hold out from eating at a tailgate. The Schmitter features steak, onions, tomatoes, cheese, grilled salami and a special sauce on a Kaiser roll. This area with the best food is a hike from some seating sections, so it may be best to grab something on your way in.
Inside the actual stadium, there are plenty of concession stands and they are expensive, like their counterparts outside. The choices throughout each concourse level include the requisite items, but they are less varied and disappointingly only a couple items are offered per stand. This is Philadelphia and thankfully several spots sell cheesesteaks. The best choice is getting one from the Tony Luke’s stand ($11) near Section 114. Another sandwich worth trying is the Quick & Carmichael, named after two former wide receivers. The $12 item features either pulled chicken or pulled pork and for $17, the combination of both. There are also some good looking soft pretzels available, which is a Philadelphia favorite, however the one I tried was cold. Of course, Chickie’s & Pete’s sell their famous crab fries ($11) and chicken cutlets ($9).
Miller Lite and Budweiser are the prominent beers sold around the stadium and these are generally $8-$9, depending on the type. Other beers are available, but the local selection is limited. Coca-Cola provides the soda products and a regular is $5. For those that are not looking to drink alcohol, be sure to sign up for the Designated Driver program in the north plaza at ground level for a ticket to receive a free beverage.
Set amongst a backdrop of seemingly endless rows of tailgates, Lincoln Financial Field’s exterior of exposed steel, beams, brick and glass is well designed to represent the character of Philadelphia. Walking towards the stadium from the north, the open corners and upper deck shape almost give the perception of an Eagle flying. Inside, the stadium is so well designed with angled seating sections enhancing the sightlines. The lower deck is at a shallow grade, while the upper deck has more of a steeper pitch and all of the individual Midnight Green seats have backs and cupholders. Though the upper deck is high because of the below club section sandwiched between a layer of suites, the view is not bad at all. Various nooks and crannies give the stadium a non-uniform, unique appearance, while the open corners in the north end help to provide peaks of Center City (Philly’s downtown).
The outer gates open 2.5 hours before kickoff for access to the plaza behind the north end zone. This is a nice area to spend a little time as there is entertainment and live music to go along with the food trucks. The gates to the actual seating bowl open 1.5 hours before the game and once seated, the experience is enhanced by a pair of high-quality video boards at each end zone. The only downfall is the usage of big ads on the sides, which cut down on the picture. For fantasy football junkies, there is a separate board that rolls through player stats and the WiFi in the stadium has recently been enhanced to handle the volume. Those looking to factor in weather, the highest several rows in the sideline 200s are underneath an overhang. The sun will shine brightest on Sections 115-125 and 219-231.
Game atmosphere is tremendous as The Linc is a very loud stadium that can provide a distinct home field advantage (so long as the fans don’t turn on their team). A Rocky themed introduction video is goosebump-inducing and the roar from the opening kick continues into the first possession. After an Eagles touchdown, “Fly Eagles Fly” is sung by pretty much everybody and topped off with a deafening “E-A-G-L-E-S Eagles!” at the end. During halftime, there’s a chance the Eagles Drumline performs and it is definitely worth sticking around for.
Lincoln Financial Field is part of the South Philadelphia Sports Complex, a huge space that contains the city’s arena, ballpark and stadium. While this makes for simple access and the easy ability to take in a multi-sport doubleheader, it also means there is a lack of neighborhood thanks to the surrounding sea of parking. Only in the last few years have fans had a nearby pre/post game option. Built on the site of the old Spectrum, Xfinity Live! is a manufactured entertainment center with multiple themed sports bars. It may be overpriced, occasionally crowded and not necessarily authentic, but it is a decent place to go for a bite and a drink to watch other games either before or after the Eagles. Victory Beer Hall and the NBC Sports Arena are just two of the large establishments to check out. Another option a little further away is Chickie’s & Pete’s, located on Packer Ave. They do offer a shuttle to the game in their “Taxi Crab.”
About five miles north up Broad Street is the center of Philadelphia, where there is plenty to check out. Independence National Park includes the Liberty Bell, the National Constitution Center and Independence Hall. Other great museums surround the Park, while in the heart of the city, it is worth seeing City Hall and JFK Plaza, where the famous “LOVE” sign is located. For a cheesesteak, Steve’s Prince of Steaks on 16th and Chestnut is a fine choice for an authentic Philly specialty. If you want to stay closer to South Philly, stay away from tourist traps Pat’s and Geno’s and instead visit Tony Luke’s on Oregon Ave.
It has been said that you can tell if the Eagles won or lost by just walking down Broad Street Monday morning as the mood of the city rides on the team. Philadelphia has a supremely passionate fan base that are seen as some of the most loyal, ardent supporters in the league. The city also draws the ire of many when the words “Philadelphia Fans” are uttered. Clearly, they have a bad reputation and the stories have been repeated ad nauseam. While there is no arguing that there are plenty of obnoxious jerks at Eagles games who act like idiots, this is no different than what happens at many NFL games across the country. Additionally, these people at the games are in the significant minority. In terms of attending a game at The Linc wearing the jersey of the visiting team, you may get heckled, but as long as you are respectful, it is highly unlikely to run into any problems. I attended the game where the Eagles played the Saints and of the 30-40 people I saw wearing the Black & Gold, none of them were derided. Now, there is an exception as attending a division game rooting for the Cowboys, Giants or Redskins may not be the best idea.
Eagles fans fill their stadium every Sunday and consistently rank in the Top 8 for NFL attendance by % of capacity. All the more impressive is the lack of empty seats at a game, in a day and age where it is easy to spot stadiums with open areas during a session of NFL RedZone. The crowd in Philadelphia turns The Linc into a very loud place and though they are quick to boo and get mad at their team, it is all because they care so much. That’s way better than sitting in a stadium where everyone is half-watching and playing on their phone.
Getting to the Sports Complex is quite easy as both I-95 and I-76 lead into the area. Parking is plentiful and the football operation tries to streamline traffic after the game. The Lincoln Financial Field website does a nice job to break down where each lot exits to. This does help traffic flow, but backups are inevitable and it certainly takes a while to leave after the game is over. For those not tailgating, there is a way to avoid the congestion headaches and it is much more cost-effective then having to drop $40 on parking. SEPTA is the mass transit system in Southeast PA and visitors can take the Broad Street Line from Center City right to the AT&T Station (yes, it’s a sad world where subway stations are being sponsored), which is a 5-10 minute walk from the stadium. I will say the system is not as good as the Metro in DC or the subway system in NYC, so first-time visitors should probably do some research before going this route. Also, be prepared to cram into a train after the game as it gets very crowded.
Concourse accessibility is very good at The Linc and as long as it is not halftime, there should be no trouble moving around the place. Bathrooms will have their usual lines at the intermission, but they typically move efficiently. There is one spot in the stadium where fans can not connect easily to a different seating area; between sections 237 and 239, one must walk all the way around or down to the first level. Access between lower and upper decks is typically made by traversing winding ramps, however there are a few escalators that can speed up this process.
Return on Investment 4
Attending a Philadelphia Eagles game is a very costly venture and while the entire NFL is expensive for the fan, it is even more so here. The $40 parking charge is hard to fathom and tickets range from $75 to $130. However, seats are snagged so fast, that it is likely fans need to use the secondary market and tickets there start at $100. There are ways to save money though and using mass transit alone can save over $30. There are also standing room tickets which cost just $55. Despite the high prices, an Eagles game is quite an experience and this is a must visit for football fans.
It is hard not to notice the funky spinning blades on top of the stadium ends. These scary-looking things are actually wind turbines and they are a part of what makes Philadelphia a leader in the Green Energy initiative. Solar panels have recently been installed on the outside of the stadium as well and the efforts the team has gone through to achieve renewable energy should be commended.
In the plaza area near the north end zone, there is a building that leads to escalator access for suite holders. The entrance area is open to all fans and this section is a great spot that pays homage to team history. Spend some time here before the game to check out the team’s hall of fame, timeline and multiple murals. Also, be sure to check out the banners hanging from the rafters of the stadium.
A $125 million renovation project paid by the team and league not only upgraded the stadium, but added some nice personal touches. Among the additions: historical murals, an expanded team store, upgraded WiFi and a connecting bridge in the northeast corner of the stadium.
Finally, one more point for “Fly Eagles Fly.” It is very catchy!
Lincoln Financial Field is a stadium that is not only designed very well, but also one that represents Philadelphia perfectly. Many little features and touches make it known that this is the home of the Eagles. Other intangibles add to a great football experience, but it is really the fans that make attending an Eagles game stand out from other places. They will never shed their reputation, but their deep passion and ability to create a boisterous atmosphere make attending a game at The Linc a must for any football fan.
Follow all of Sean’s journeys at Stadium and Arena Visits.
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