Since moving here into Indianapolis in 1984, the Colts have played in the cramped confines of the RCA
Dome, formerly known as the Hoosier Dome, and indoor stadium attached to the massive Indiana
Convention Center next door. While located in a prime downtown location adjacent to Union Station
and the Wholesale District, the dome itself provided little or nothing in terms of creature comforts or fan
amenities – cramped and narrow concourses, few gathering spots, just an indoor field covered by an
air supported tarp like roof.
That all changed in 2008. By combining a $720 million pot of money from the State, the City, a
contribution from the Colts, and a host of new taxes targeted towards the visitor, financing for a
magnificent new stadium was put together, and dominating the south side of Indianapolis’ already
impressive skyline is a building that is hard to miss – Lucas Oil Stadium, the home of the Indianapolis
Getting to the Venue
Be clear on this – Indianapolis is a motorists’ city. No elaborate light rail lines or sleek subways to ferry
one about. The way one gets to Lucas Oil Stadium is by car. And while there is some onsite parking
right around the stadium, most likely sold to premium seat holders and season ticket customers,
downtown Indianapolis has more than enough parking – surface lots, ramps, and even free on street
parking for those getting down there early enough, just a short walk away. Depending on the walking
distance, parking can be had as cheap as $5 so it pays to shop around and grab a space. Ingress and
egress into the city is pretty much a snap. And if you park south of the railroad corridor separating the
stadium side from the downtown core, there is a pretty vibrant tailgate scene going among the many
Outside the Venue
Being downtown and all, the stadium takes full advantage of its location in a very vibrant center city to
make the game day experience a complete one for fans attending the game. Want to tailgate? Plenty of
parking lots to do just that. Want to do dinner before/after the game, or shop? Hundreds of restaurants
are just a short walk away from the stadium, and the Circle Center Mall downtown is also just a short
distance away. Downtown Indianapolis is clean, beautiful, full of things to see and do, and Colts
games downtown are just one more amenity to bring a critical mass to this splendid city.
The neighborhood directly adjacent to the stadium is undergoing its own transformation; what was
once an industrially zoned back edge of town is seeing new residential development, mid rise hotels,
and even a growing bar district. And we got to make a plug for one our all time favorites – a White
Castle fast food burger joint literally next door to the stadium.
It is really the breathtaking architecture of this building which gives it the “wow” factor. The stadium is
massive and can’t be missed as it dominates the neighborhood around it. The rectangular shaped
structure is one huge mass of reddish-brown brick and glass, with giant steel support across the roof
to slide open the retractable panels, which can completely open in about ten minutes. Another
interesting feature – the glass wall on the north side if the stadium also retracts, offering fans inside
much of the seating bowl a terrific view of the city’s skyline. Spacious plazas surround much of the
building, offering comfortable gathering areas, room for a “Fan Zone” area with food, games, and
Each of the four gates has its own dedicated sponsor and theme, but if you want to get the maximum
effect of this place, enter via the “Lucas Oil” gate on the north side. The massive atrium lobby has
murals of great Colts moments, 50s style diner themed concession stands, race car memorabilia with
a Lucas Oil theme, and of course a sweeping view of the playing surface, as well as a stage with live
entertainment. As an aside, game day entertainment seems to be a big thing with the Colts, with
various bands, music, drum corps groups serenading at each entryway to the place.
The Colts have taken sterile grey concourses and added splashes of color everywhere – pillars
painted in red, yellow and green hues, massive ad banners. But one of the coolest sets of banners
ring the 500/600 level concourse – a series of hundreds of photos of face painted, Colts-gear wearing
fans, with the title “Blue since (fill in year). What a nice testament to Joe Fan!
There are seven, count ‘em, seven levels of viewing areas here, from the events level – with dugout
seating suites in the end zones, to 100 level seating, to three levels for clubs and suites, and then of
course, two sections of upper decks. There is permanent seating for football for just over 63,000 fans,
although temp seats can be squeezed in for big events to bring capacity up to as high as 70,000.
Ribbon boards run around the periphery of the 200 level, and two video boards hang off center in the
corner of each end zone. The electronics here aren’t all that good. The video boards are not HD and of
comparatively poor resolution to some we have seen elsewhere, and information presentation, like
game clock, score, downs, etc, are displayed on the ribbon board in the end zones and aren’t easy to
While concession stands are nicely appointed and set up, the fare here doesn’t amount to much more
than the standard ballpark dreck, hot dogs, cheeseburgers, Papa Johns pizza, deli sandwiches,
nachos grande, bud light and draft beer. The satellite vending carts offer the best stuff – like freshly
prepared cheesesteak sandwiches. Prices here are reasonable, considering this is a new venue. The
Colts Pro Shop is located on the east side of the stadium, is built on two levels, is accessible to the
outside on non game days, and is absolutely huge.
There are two levels of suites here , and sandwiched in between is a club/loge level straddling the
sidelines with 14,600 premium seats. Each sideline has its own private club lounge, the Baker and
Daniels Club on the east side and the Advantage Club on the west side.
The Indianapolis Colts 2007 Super Bowl Championship banner dominates the steel rafters along
with smaller banners which herald such accomplishments as “AFC Finalist” and “AFC Wildcard”. Not
The Colts have not retired any numbers of players who have performed for the team since their
franchise was relocated from Baltimore. The Baltimore Colts have retired the numbers of seven
players, which the franchise here has respected, but neither their names nor their numbers are on
Touchdowns, extra points, fumbles…
Touchdown – to the ring of banners which hang in the upper level concourse, celebrating and honoring
the Indianapolis Colts fans.
Fumble – to the lame ass Colts fans who were pretty ambivalent walking out the stadium after a huge
win. The quiet shuffle of feet as fans quietly walked back to their cars is a scene you would never see
at the Ralph.
Fumble – for the hard to find and must squint basic scores and information, located in small font on
the end zone ribbon boards.
Extra Point – St. Elmo Steakhouse a great Indianapolis institution and close to the stadium. And once
again, we passed on a visit there.
Touchdown – for the USRT Karma, which helped deliver the first ever franchise win their new digs.
Indianapolis is one of our favorite USRT destinations. Downtown is clean, vibrant, and plenty of things
for the visitor to experience. We always try to stay downtown when we visit, no need to move the car and
walking distance to everything we want to see and do during our stay here. The stadium is in a perfect
location, right on the fringes of the center city, and right adjacent to the massive convention center. The
Colts have done a lot to enhance the game day experience and make their games a fan friendly evet.
The building itself is an architectural marvel, and like its retractable roof peers in Arizona and Houston,
is adaptable to a multitude of uses outside of football. The lack of a really dynamic food menu, plus the
sub par scoreboard is a bit of a downer, however. That, and the fan support falls closer to the tea and
crumpets end of the scale then the electric energy we would expect. Nonetheless, a satisfying NFL
experience and a place we’d be happy to visit again.
Food and team store: 6
Scoreboard and electronics: 6
Fan support: 7
Location and neighborhood: 8.5
Banners and history: 4
In game entertainment: 8
Concourses/fan comfort: 8.5
Bonus: Tailgate scene: 1; White Castle nearby: 1; Entertainment at each gate: 1; Indianapolis kick ass
town: 1; Retractable roof and wall: 1; Lucas Oil main gate and atrium 1