When people walk into Lucas Oil Stadium for the first time, they can't help but look up.
They gaze at the huge roof, whether it's open or closed. They marvel at the picturesque end-zone window, whether it's open or closed. The Indianapolis Colts' huge move from an indoor stadium to a kinda, sorta, halfway outdoor stadium captures everyone's attention.
When the roof and window are open, football life's a breeze.
“It's still hot,” cornerback Marlin Jackson said. “It still feels indoors. I like it either way. It feels good, the turf is great.”
Judging by fans' reaction to the two exhibition games, especially the debut, there will be an added level of adrenalin in the home stadium switch from the old RCA Dome.
“It might not be as loud as the dome, but it's cool,” safety Bob Sanders said, referencing the atmosphere, not the temperature. “It's definitely a good thing for the city and a good thing for the organization.”
The biggest difference between old dome and new stadium is size. Drive by on I-70 and you can see the massiveness of “The Luke.” The dome could fit inside it. Lucas Oil Stadium will seat 63,000 fans, with a capability of expanding to 70,000.
The architectural design closely resembles that of Conseco Fieldhouse, home of the Pacers. In fact, from high on the west side seating in the stadium, fans can look through the north window and see Conseco. Fans on the other side look toward the Victory Field baseball stadium.
There are a number of restaurants and displays along the concourse, although not the level of memorabilia Conseco possesses in honoring Indiana basketball.
As the newness wears off, the biggest weekly excitement will be whether the retractable roof will be open or closed. A decision must be made on game days at least 90 minutes before kickoff. It is likely to be open early in the season, but not as likely later in the fall. That decision lies with Colts management.
“It really doesn't matter to me,” Sanders said. “Open or shut, we still have to play Colts ball.”
Sanders hits on the bottom line. Lucas Oil Stadium's ultimate charm will hinge on whether the home team keeps on winning.
“A (new) stadium is great,” quarterback Peyton Manning said, “but it gets greater when you're winning football games and the players are playing at a high level.”