Lucas Oil Stadium is expected to see at least $22 million in upgrades in 2022, as part of an improvement plan written into contracts when the venue was first built.
The improvements will bring new, higher-definition video boards to the northwest and southeast corners of the bowl, along with new video-ribbon displays, an upgraded sound system, new carpet and furniture, and an area in the team’s locker room for female football personnel.
“That replacement [plan] is baked into the lease,” said Andy Mallon, executive director of the Capital Improvement Board of Marion County, which owns and operates the venue. Mallon added most of the things being replaced are original to when the stadium opened in 2008.
The agreement between the CIB and the Indianapolis Colts signed in 2005 laid out plans to upgrade the video boards once they’d reached the end of their useful life, within 15 years of the venue opening. The first video board system, from national scoreboard supply firm Daktronics, cost about $11 million.
The CIB has a similar agreement with the Indiana Pacers, reached in 2019, that calls for a contribution of up to $120 million through 2034 for technology upgrades, which would include video boards and sound systems.
The Lucas Oil replacement project, which will take place mostly next spring and summer, is expected to cost about $22 million, with most of the funding coming from the CIB. The Colts will contribute an undisclosed amount toward the locker room modification.
“We already have female football staff working for us, but we don’t have much in the way of what we feel is a fair accommodation for female staff,” said Pete Ward, chief operating officer for the franchise. “So, we’re making those tweaks this coming off-season, and they’ll have their own space with lockers and shower areas.”
The new video boards and digital ribbons are projected to cost about $16 million, while new carpeting, furniture and wall coverings for the stadium’s 139 suites will cost about $4 million. The sound system changeover is anticipated to cost about $2 million.
The existing video boards are each 96 feet by 53 feet and their replacements will be the same size. But Ward said since the CIB is still seeking bids for the new boards, it’s not entirely clear what their screen resolution will be. Regardless, he said they will be “a significant improvement” on what’s already there, which were among the best in the NFL when the venue opened.
“When we opened the stadium back in 2008, we had some of the largest and higher-definition screens in the league—it was such a remarkable improvement over the RCA Dome,” he said. “But it’s been some 14 years since those were installed, and they’re still great but they’ve become obsolete, from a maintenance standpoint, at the very least.”
In recent years, other projects to modernize the stadium and fan experience have been completed, including the 2019 addition of Version 5G to the building. The Colts prior to this season also converted multiple spaces into bars and lounges catering to mobile sports bettors.
In addition to its projects at Lucas Oil Stadium, the Capital Improvement Board also is spending about $8 million for full carpet replacements at the Indiana Convention Center (a project delayed by the pandemic) and another $2 million to repair concrete at the Virginia Avenue Garage adjacent to Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
In all, the CIB plans to spend about $51.6 million on capital projects in 2022—about $38.1 million more than in 2021. That also includes a $12 million contribution to the plaza planned for the area north of the fieldhouse.