The Scanning of Ford Field

Laser scanning image showing outside area of Ford Field. The photo shows the millions of points collected using this method.

NFE has been working with the Detroit Lions since the summer of 2018, providing land surveying services at Ford Field. NFE along with our partner NOAR Technologies are documenting the existing conditions at the facility, both inside and outside. Two surveying methods are being used to collect information and data – conventional surveying and high definition laser scanning.

Conventional Scanning
using a Total Station

Ford Field is a sports stadium and entertainment complex that sits on 25-acres in downtown Detroit and is home to the Detroit Lions of the NFL. The stadium opened in 2002 and is one of the NFL’s most unique arenas. It has 65,000 seats and a domed roof supported by two 18-foot-wide concrete columns that brings in lots of outside light. It also contains a bit of history as the entire south wall of the stadium is part of the 1920s Hudson warehouse.

NFE chose to use a combination of conventional and laser scanning for this project because both methods together deliver precise measurements in complicated environments which was a perfect choice for the complexities of Ford Field. Conventional surveying allows for very precise and accurate points. Laser scanning provides speed and allows the collection of large amounts of data in a short time upwards of a million points per second. Merging the points from conventional surveying with the laser scanning data provides a very accurate and precise model of the data and information collected known as a point cloud.

The project was divided into three phases. The first phase included surveying the parking lots, streets, sidewalks and outside (footprint) of the arena. Work for the second phase included surveying the field and seating bowl area. The third phase was recently completed and included surveying the first and second concourse levels.

Laser scanning image showing the outside area of Ford Field. Laser scanning collects large amounts of data in a short time.

For all three phases, the data was collected both conventionally and by laser scanning methods. The information was merged to create an overall 3D CAD file and sequential 2D drawings. The drawings will be used by the Detroit Lions for future master planning.

NFE, and our subconsultant NOAR Technologies, are proud to be providing our services and talents to a well-known Detroit institution. If you have any questions regarding conventional surveying or high definition laser scanning, please contact Michael Peterson at 248-332-7931 or

Topographic Survey referencing elevations and surface and underground features of the seating bowl area.