Stadium, airport terminal open

December 29, 2008

The $720 million Lucas Oil Stadium opened in August, just in time for the Indianapolis Colts' season. The cavernous, publicly funded venue opened to rave reviews early on from the likes of Colts owner Jim Irsay, Mayor Greg Ballard and retired Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Theismann.

"There has been a lot put into the atmosphere," said Forrest Lucas, president of Lucas Oil Products, which paid $121.5 million for a 20-year naming-rights deal for the stadium. "I was there for the first three Colts games, and it's just awesome. It's a beautiful place."

Some fans complained escalators were slow, pedestrian traffic flow was awkward, stadium workers were rude, seats were difficult to locate, and the temperature inside the facility was inconsistent.

As the season wore on, fans began to soften their stance. And while many fans said the new stadium isn't nearly as loud as the RCA Dome and doesn't give the team as much of a home-field advantage, they admitted the site lines were superior.

Even Lucas admitted there were some glitches to be worked out.

"They need to do more work in helping people find their way to their seats," he said.

The response to the $1.1 billion midfield terminal, which opened in November, also was positive, albeit more muted. Travelers largely gave the facility positive reviews for shorter airplane taxiing times, wider concourses and enhanced dining options.

Because the new terminal costs more to operate, airlines will pay higher landing fees—a burden that's hitting the ailing industry at an inopportune time.

The Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association planned to use the two facilities as centerpieces in a citywide branding campaign set to debut during the first quarter of 2009. 

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