INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Gov. Mitch Daniels, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay and other dignitaries praised Lucas Oil Stadium during the formal ribbon-cutting of the team’s new $720 million home Aug. 16.
Several hundred fans clad in Colts jerseys and other blue clothing gathered around a stage at the north end of the 63,000-seat, retractable-roof stadium for the ceremony.
“This is about a place where we gather,” Irsay said. “It’s about community. It’s everyone’s stadium. This is the people’s stadium.”
Daniels said he was most impressed by the work of those who built the stadium.
“I want to say thanks, most of all, to the workers who made this marvel possible,” Daniels said.
The first games in the new stadium next to the RCA Dome were a pair of high school doubleheaders Aug. 22 and 23 in Colts quarterback Peyton Manning’s annual PeyBack Classic. The Colts will make their debut there Aug. 24 in a preseason game against the Buffalo Bills. It also will host the 2012 Super Bowl.
Mayor Greg Ballard said the stadium will have a positive economic impact on the city.
“Indianapolis has worked too hard to attract and hold on to certain conventions and special events. Some of those meetings were starting to outgrow us and those organizations were turning to other communities that were building new venues,” he said. “With today’s grand opening, we’re more than back in the game. We’ve moved back to the forefront.”
Construction on the stadium began in fall 2005 under former Mayor Bart Peterson, and the most serious problems occurred last month when several downspouts that carry rain away from the roof failed during a storm, flooding a basement telecommunications center.
Peterson said the stadium was “worth every penny.”
“There are a lot of tangible benefits to building this stadium, but the real reason is far more significant than any dollars and cents analysis. It is because the Indianapolis Colts bring us together as a city and a state,” Peterson said.
NCAA President Myles Brand said the stadium also will provide a terrific venue for college basketball Final Fours, which it already is due to host.
“Indianapolis is already America’s leading sports city, and this gold medal stadium confirms that,” Brand said. “Indy and Indiana can be very proud of everything that has been done to make this possible.”
Forrest Lucas, the man who paid $121.5 million for the stadium’s naming rights, said he was anxious for an estimated 100,000 fans to get the chance to tour the stadium.
“You probably look at this place and say, ’It’s magnificent’,” Lucas said. “But you don’t know how magnificent it is until you get inside.”