Colts fans let Lucas hear it

August 19, 2008
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lucasLucas Oil Products Inc., and its owner Forrest Lucas, are taking a beating from IBJ readers after his request that Indianapolis Colts fans and local media not call the team's new stadium "The Luke." Lucas pointed out that one of his competitors is LukOil, a Russian-owned New Jersey based firm making a big push in the U.S. He’s concerned The Luke nickname will give his competitor a big marketing boost. Lucas may have double trouble. An IBJ reader also pointed out that there’s a Hobart-based Luke Oil Co., which has 15 retail gas stations and other enterprises in northwest Indiana and southwest Michigan. And the Hobart-based Luke Oil appears to be growing.

That aside, I was surprised at how much backlash there was against Lucas personally over his request. Isn’t his $121.5 million naming rights deal with the Colts going to help the team remain competitive over the next 20 years? And I think those who are calling Lucas an elitist, have him all wrong. A businessman intent on protecting his interests, yes. A corporate snob, no way. 

This is a guy who takes his own calls and never shies away from answering a single question. Heck, he’s even given me his and his wife’s cell phone numbers in case I need to reach him in a hurry. He takes calls when he's in the office, on the road or on vacation. That’s pretty unusual access for a corporate CEO these days. If Lucas has made any mistakes since signing the naming rights deal, it’s probably that he’s been too open and honest—at least from a marketing perspective. That's the kind of mistake I can live with.
  • I agree. Forrest, thank you, your wife and company, for all you have done for the state.
  • I am sure a lot of those beating him up are probably haters of the Stadium or corporate naming rights or the Colts or his wealth. I would not beat him up, but I do feel he is taking the wrong approach to this.

    People will call it what they want. Few in Denver call it Invesco Field, they call it Mile High. I know many who refuse to use the name Verizon Wireless Center and still call it Deer Creek. For the same thing, I know many who called the RCA Dome the Hoosier Dome or Dome to this day. What he needs to do his embrace The Luke as a nickname. He needs to make it synonymous with Lucas Oil. As the story says, most people have probably never heard of Lukoil or Luke Oil in Hobart. If he ties The Luke into his advertising, people will think of his company when they hear it. Most people are not huge fans of impersonal corporate names on stadiums and try to make it simpler, easier and more folksy. Mr. Lucas, embrace The Luke and ignore the Russians and the Hobartans.
  • Not a fan of the stadium deal that was struck between the politicians and Jim Irsay, but that doesn't reflect upon Mr. Lucas naming rights deal.

    The only thing I request is that he move his headquarters to Indiana so we can take pride in the name. A lot of good will is lost knowing it is a California company with very little connection to our city.
  • If I was plucking down $121 million my attorney's would have a clause on the naming right, and have a penalty if it was not adhered to, or a kick out clause. He has every right to want the name as he paid for it....I am surprised Irsay has not put the burden on the taxpayer's to make it right !
    I think The Luke sounds like crap anyway....
  • You think maybe some people are calling it The Luke because we're a little embarrassed to have a $750M stadium named after oil products. As Adam said above, maybe if he moved his headquarters and truly became an Indiana company we'd be more inclined to refer to it by it's proper name.
  • How 'bout this, everytime I refer to the stadium as The Luke, I'll head to my nearest autoparts store and buy a bottle of Lucas Oil Fuel Treatment. That should offset any negative impact caused by me saying The Luke. Damn! Now I gotta buy 2 bottles:)
  • It's pretty amazing to me that no one balked much at calling NASCAR's top series the Winston Cup for years, yet calling the Colts' new home Lucas Oil Stadium is a big issue. Jeez!
  • Why not call it The Forrest?

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