INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Lucas Oil Stadium is iconic. Not only is it the home of the Indianapolis Colts, but it’s hosted everything from concerts to the College Football Playoff to a Super Bowl.
In order to understand the importance of the stadium now, you have to understand where it all started.
Larry Hall is the vice president of special projects and historical affairs for the Colts. He’s been with the Indianapolis Colts from the beginning.
“The Colts moved from Baltimore, packed on March 28, arrived on March 29 of 1984. I started two months to the day after the Mayflower landed. May 29 of ’84, as the lead ticket manager at 24 years old,” Hall said.
The move by the Colts seems like it was quick and easy, but the process really began years prior, when the city of Indianapolis made a massive decision.
“Part of the plan for the leadership in Indianapolis in the ’70s and ’80s was to revitalize the downtown area and to do that they wanted to use sports as a mechanism for bringing people downtown, encouraging tourism,” Suzanne Hahn, the vice president of archives and library at the Indiana Historical Society.
“When the Hoosier Dome opened, it was actually part of the convention center and that was a great kind of step for them to take in order to boost downtown,” Hahn said.
It also gave the newly moved Colts a place to play their home games. The only question was, would people show up?
“Less than two weeks, right? Thirteen days, there were 30,000 applications, 140,000 seats, and then at that point, they shut down the lock box that was receiving certified checks with these applications, and supposedly people were waiting in line at midnight when they first created copies of the paper. The demand was overwhelming,” Hall said.
The first game at the Hoosier Dome sold out. It was a moment to celebrate for the team and the city.
“You had Mayor Hudnut throwing that inaugural pass to kick off the launching of the Hoosier Dome,” Hahn said.
The Colts started playing in the Hoosier Dome in 1984. In 1994, a media company by the name of RCA took over the branding for the stadium and it became the RCA Dome.
“Now, of course, brand sponsorship is a part of all sports, and I just know the Hoosier Dome will always have a soft spot in people’s hearts because that’s the name associated with the state, and at the same time, there is a recognition that that is part of professional sports now is sponsorship,” Hall said.
For 14 years, the RCA Dome hosted what many called the “golden years” of Colts football, with Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison, Edgerrin James, and, of course, the 2006 Super Bowl championship. But, maybe bigger than the Super Bowl, was the game that took place in the dome the following year.
“Jan. 21 of 2007, we beat the Patriots to qualify and go to the Super Bowl. I like to think, if you look up the word ‘joy’ in the dictionary and took a picture, that’s what it looks like,” Hall said.
The Colts would play just one more season at the RCA Dome before it literally came crashing down during planned demolition. Something new was on the horizon, as the Colts moved into Lucas Oil Stadium, referred to by some fans as “The House Peyton Built.”
“I was concerned, overseeing ticketing, about people showing up for the very first time, and scrambling to figure out, ‘Where’s the restroom?’, ‘Where’s the concessions?’. So, I made sure there was a commemorative ticket, back when we printed a lot of paper tickets, and we had a day where you could come to the stadium and just check it out,” Hall said.
Since 2008, Lucas Oil Stadium has been the Colts’ home, and it’s the fans’ home away from home, a place to look fondly on memories and continue to create new ones.
“Going to Colts games is special for a lot of people; they plan their lives around it. I would get calls before the schedule came out, saying, ‘Hey my daughter’s getting married this fall, do you know if we have a home game this particular weekend?’ It’s just a privilege and I feel really lucky and blessed to be a part of it for all these seasons, you know, season number 39 here in Indy, and there’s a lot of great days ahead,” Hall said.