NFL schedule not kind to Lucas Oil

April 17, 2009
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LucasAt first glance the Indianapolis Colts schedule looks pretty good for all concerned. Forrest Lucas, founder of the oil company that put its name on the Colts one-year-old stadium, called the team’s 2009 slate “dynamite.”

But upon further review, you have to wonder if someone in the league’s scheduling office has it out for Lucas Oil Co. and the city of Indianapolis. True, the Colts will get lots of prime time exposure. Problem is, four of those five prime time, nationally televised games are on the road.

The NFL doesn’t seem too concerned with how much exposure this small market gets. Despite having one of the league’s marquee teams, Indianapolis only plays host to one prime time game—Nov. 15. Fortunately for Indy and Lucas Oil—which paid $121.5 million to affix its name to the Colts' stadium—that game has the potential to be the best regular season game of the 2009 campaign. It features New England and quarterback Tom Brady in his comeback season against the high octane Colts.

Meanwhile, the Colts will play a Monday night game at Miami Sept. 21, Sunday night games at Arizona Sept. 27 and at Tennessee Oct. 11 and a Thursday nighter at Jacksonville.

Six of the Colts eight home games will have a 1 p.m. kick-off, usually the slot that earns the lowest TV ratings. This is hardly good news for a city banking on all the exposure it can get to build its tourism, convention and corporate business. It also has to be a bit of a let down for Lucas Oil.

Forrest Lucas isn’t complaining. He told me in a phone conversation yesterday, his California-based company is getting great—even greater than anticipated—exposure from the stadium naming rights deal.

“We’ve been involved in motorsports for years, and when I ask people what they know about our company, the first thing they mention is the stadium,” Lucas said. “This deal has gotten us exposure worldwide.”

Lucas underscored the importance of the Colts’ prime time home games for his company. Lucas said they’re especially important now, as Lucas Oil is testing new products in about 600 Auto Zone stores, with plans to make a serious nationwide push into the consumer motor oil sector later this year and next year.

“We’re ready to get into more mainstream markets in a big way,” Lucas said. “Those national TV games are huge for us. That’s the No. 1 thing we wanted with this deal.”

While Lucas said he is not disappointed by the deal “in any way,” he does hope to see a wider array of future events in the Stadium, including motorcycle racing, tractor pulls and concerts. Lucas thinks a tractor pull to coincide with the FFA convention is a natural fit.

“I think there are a lot of events they could bring in that they haven’t yet,” Lucas said. “Naturally, the more events they can bring in appealing to a wide ranging audience is good for Lucas Oil.”
  • Yadda, yadda, yadda....

    They granted us a Super Bowl. Not sure you can have it out for someone and give them a Super Bowl and essentially hundreds of Millions of Dollars in Revenue Potential for a City at the same time. While the Colts should be annual MNF home participants, let's be realistic, they gave us the Crown Jewel of American Sports.

    I'd also imagine that the Colts-Pats game will rival the ratings of 95% of every other Prime-Time game this season alone.

    I don't think Lucas Oil will have a problem with exposure.
  • Is NBC still doing Flex time at the end of the season? If so, and if we're having a good season, we might get pulled to a Sunday-night flex slot.

    Now if Comcast and NFL Network could just get their battle settled so we don't lose them....
  • This column is an opinion struggling to find facts to support it.

    And the word you want is marquee, not marquis.
  • Now if the CIB had just been smart enough to put into the contract with the Colts, that the first $47,000,000 of the naming rights money went to the CIB, we would have another whole year to fix their lack of negotiating skills. But, of course, we shouldn't expect our poor small-town-market, publicly-funded, multi-million-dollar, corporation to actually do like most businesses and be profitable or not on their own. So, sure however you do it, CIB, please take my tax dollars to cover the short fall. I don't need the dollars to fix crumbling sidewalks, and pot-hole filled streets, when the money can be better used to line JI's pockets. I just wish I had grown up with the silver spoon and the politicians in my pocket, then I am sure that I would see things differently from my Carmel mansion.
  • Wasn't the CIB that negotiated the deal, that would have been Peterson. And as I have said before, I am sure he had no clue Indy would score what at that time was one of the top 5 naming rights deals in the Country. Hell, we were just getting a million a year under the RCA deal. Irsay and crew hit it out of the park with the deal they got. They were not even going to pitch to Lucas at first, then decided it would be a good practice run if nothing else. Goes to show you, you never know what you can get until you try.

    You also do understand that much of the CIB deficit will be taken care of as the CC and JW get finished and the big conventions get rolling in. Right now they are operating at a lower level than previous years due to the construction. But once everything gets ramped up, things will look a lot better.
  • It is utterly amazing how many people comment about issues while only knowing a fraction of the facts. Settle down, George, and search for the facts. Your vent is understanding, but the reality is quite something else.
  • This is a legit article. Why are 4 of 5 Colts prime time games away from home? And is Lucas concerned?

    And the SB in 2012 has little to do with the 2009 schedule.

    The RCA naming rights deal is not a fair comparison either. That deal was for an established facility that already had a name (one that many refused to let go of) and was what 15 years old (?). Surely whoever negotiated the deal (BP or the CIB) would not see that as the benchmark. If not, the criticisms are even more valid.
  • This is complete bull. It shows a complete lack of respect by the NFL for The Colts, the team's owner, Jim Irsay, and the city of Indianapolis, who has been a pretty darn good partner in taking on the expense of now one of the nicest facilities in the NFL. This is a COMPLETE slap in the face by the NFL scheduling committee. And a guy like Forrest Lucas who paid $121.5 million to get his name attached to this facility should be seriously upset and demand some answers from the league office. Seriously, take a look at the other team schedules, especially those with the marquee status of the Colts. Then you will realize how badly the Colts and their sponsors got hosed.
  • We're worried about this? Please. The State of Indiana could be in a depression in another six months to a year.

    As for the big conventions rolling into town, well that is yet to be seen. With companies cutting costs the era of the big convention may very well be over and done with. What is (or isn't) happening in Las Vegas might be a clue.
  • What do you mean another six months to a year? We are not even close to a depression. This is a deep recession, but so far not even close to the recession of the early 80's. None of our statistics are even close to equally that recession and I hope we do not get close.

    It is easy to compare the Lucas deal to the RCA deal. Same city, same events for the most part, same NFL Team. Sure, there would be a bump in the deal from inflation and from the newer, nicer venue. But not a bump from $1 million a year to $6 million a year. Not with Indy, the 20th largest market or whatever we are having one of top 5 naming rights deals. This had more to do with Colts Marketing vs. City of Indy marketing. Private sector over public. The City employee marketing the naming rights would probably not get a pay raise or bonus for getting a really good deal. I guarantee Zupancic got a fat bonus and raise. If Indy had been smart, they would have not given away the naming rights, but gotten a percentage. 10% in hindsight would have been more per year than we were making with the RCA deal.
  • Mitch,

    It does somewhat show a lack of respect, but also to the poster who mentioned that it doesn't matter about the SB in 2012 and has no effect on the 2009 schedule, bet me. You realize how many back room deals and weird negotiations take place when it comes to the NFL. For all we know, Irsay committed to throwing away 5 or 6 Prime Time NFL games in the course of the next few years, to allow other teams to earn revenue in place of us having the Super Bowl.

    We have no idea what factors in to all of that, so a lack of respect, maybe. Rude - no. Not professional or the NFL not caring about smaller markets - doubtful. I think it's just how the schedule, TV, adjustment of teams to boost ratings at different time-slots and so forth.

    Take it as it is - lets show the country the type of Team and city the Colts and Indy are by taking our awesome game on the road.
  • I see only one regular season game when we have a shot at retracting the roof. That is the 9/13 game.
  • Mike says: allow other teams to earn revenue in place of us having the Super Bowl.

    You make good points but how does the fact that a game is held at night change the amount of revenue earned by an NFL team? Only if it draws more fans, which may be part of the answer - the Colts are a big road and TV draw.

    Are we saying the same thing here? It is undeniable that the Colts scored big on the deal and kudos to them. Hopefully, the CIB/City learned a lesson because the CIB/City should have a piece of that pie!
  • I agree with you. Bart got taken. He did not want to be known as the Mayor who let the Colts go. So he gave them a sweetheart deal figuring the State would have to give Indy a casino to pay for it. If they gave Indy the casino, he looks good, the Colts deal worked and the Dems had something to hold over Mitch's head in the election.

    If the casino deal did not happen, then the dems could blame the State and Mitch for losing the Colts and Bart would look good. They never figured the State and Mitch would craft a regional deal that would fund the Stadium without including a casino.

    Hopefully they have learned to strike a better deal for future projects.

    I am curious if the Stadium roof will be open this week for the FDIC. I know their reps said they would love to have it open to have the sun twinkling off of their fire engine displays.

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