Article originally posted on www.stadiumjourney.com
Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis is one of the country’s newest venues, opening just in time for the Colts’ 2008 NFL season. This beautiful building, constructed across the street from where its predecessor (the RCA Dome) once sat, holds 63,000 screaming Colts fans (about 62,500 of which seem to be wearing Peyton Manning #18 jerseys) for eight regular-season home games every year.
Notable features of the stadium include a large window at one end (that can be opened to give more of an outdoor feel, as well as provide a scenic view of downtown) and a two-panel retractable roof, which the Colts can decide to open or close up until 90 minutes before kickoff. (That’s some serious home-field advantage!)
My first visit to Lucas Oil Stadium was for a preseason game in August 2009. I left impressed, to say the least.
FANFARE SCORE: 32
Food & Beverage: 4
Lucas Oil Stadium boasts about 150 concession locations, serving a variety of options to meet any fan’s taste preference. From traditional ballpark fare such as hot dogs, pizza, and pretzels to a more assorted range of flavors (Italian, Cajun, and Bar-B-Que), this venue is well equipped to feed the diverse taste buds of a Midwestern audience.
The prices certainly won’t please a penny-pincher (I think I spent $4.00 on a package of M&Ms), but are similar to what other NFL stadiums (especially newer ones) would charge.
While Lucas Oil Stadium hasn’t been around long enough to develop its own history, Colts fans (and NFL fans in general), will enjoy this venue for decades to come. In addition to the action on the field, two extremely large video boards (located in diagonal corners) help make sure no replay is left unseen. (The Colts considered hanging an arena-style video screen a la the new Cowboy Stadium, but thought better of it).
The plaza on the stadium’s north end contains a virtual treasure trove of memorabilia dedicated to great moments in Colts history, and also the city’s connection to racing. With a moniker like “Lucas Oil Stadium”, the replica cars and other displays should come as no surprise, and they really help give this stadium an Indiana feel.
The downtown area is a perfect place to grab a meal, or drink before the game, if you’re so inclined. Dozens of restaurants are available within walking distance of the stadium, including fine dining at Weber Grill (a bit classy and pricey, no tank tops allowed), sports bars galore (during the Big Ten basketball tournament, fans from each of the conference’s 11 schools are assigned a different watering hole), and everything in between.
I have especially enjoyed trips to RAM (a restaurant and brewery with nearly a dozen different burgers alone)…it’s a great place to keep an eye on all the different games on TV…and downtown also boasts a Hard Rock Café, where a visitor could spend an hour just checking out all the rock-and-roll artifacts. Each of these options is located less than 3/4 of a mile from Lucas Oil Stadium.
Fans in the state of Indiana are nothing if not devout. While their first love may be on the hardwood (the Pacers used to begin player introductions with a video that boasted, “In 49 states, it’s just basketball…but this is Indiana”), they know their sports and you’ll enjoy the opportunity to take in an NFL game with 63,000 of them.
While I didn’t come away thinking Lucas Oil Stadium was the loudest venue I’d ever been in, I attribute that to the fact I was watching a preseason game. I also think having the roof closed (it was open the day I visited) would amp up the decibel volume a bit.
We didn’t have any problems parking near Lucas Oil Stadium. In addition to the building’s main lots, we found a garage a few blocks north that was an easy option. Traffic around game time was a little slow (we actually missed the first Colts drive of the contest because we hadn’t planned for how long it would take us to get from the highway to the stadium), but that’s to be expected if you’re still in your car a few minutes before kickoff.
Restrooms were plentiful (the venue’s website boasts 1,400 toilets), and lines weren’t a factor.
Return on Investment: 5
My trip to Lucas Oil Stadium was honestly more about seeing the Colts’ new digs than actually getting to watch the football team play (those of you that have attended preseason games know exactly what I mean). The stadium met and exceeded my expectations, and I envy the Indianapolis fans that get to enjoy it multiple times each year.
Lucas Oil Stadium will be hosting the NCAA men’s Final Four in April, and the venue has also been awarded one of the sporting world’s crown jewels, the Super Bowl, to be played in February 2012. Fans around the country will learn during these showcase events, if not before, what a beautiful facility Indianapolis has designed and built for spectators to enjoy sports in.
In my experiences traveling around the United States and watching sporting events live, I’ve been consistently blown away by the increasing level of quality and sheer “wow” factor of the newer venues that have been built. Lucas Oil Stadium is one of the finest examples of this trend. The city has done an admirable job of building an arena that connects with the city’s history, features the newest modern conveniences, has good sight lines (we sat in one of the top rows and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves), is located in a downtown area full of choice restaurants, and will prove comfortable to the fans who attend in any weather scenario. I highly recommend a visit to Lucas Oil Stadium when your travels take you through the Midwest; there can’t be many finer places to watch Peyton Manning work his magic.