INDIANAPOLIS – The search spanned across nearly 30 countries and more than 1,200 venues but at the end of the day deciding who would find itself No. 1 was not going to change.
Following a No. 1 raking in 2011, Lucas Oil Stadium once again garnered the top stadium experience in all of sports by Stadium Journey Magazine.
Paul Swaney, the president and co-founder of Stadium Journey, has made three trips to Lucas Oil Stadium and is still amazed about what he encounters on each visit.
"Colts fans are very welcoming and friendly without losing any passion," Swaney said.
"For me, Indianapolis is the best sports town in the country. For Lucas Oil to be right downtown Indianapolis is a big part of (the ranking) as well."
Swaney and his colleagues traveled across the world to compile a list of the top 101 stadiums in college and professional sports.
The uniform rating system that Swaney and his staff used followed the acronym FANFARE: Food and beverage, Atmosphere, Neighborhood, Fans, Access (includes traffic, parking, size of the concourse, etc.), Return on investment and Extras (catch all category).
This season marked the third trip to Lucas Oil Stadium that Swaney has made in as many years and there was one quality that stuck out in his mind.
"What I was really impressed with this year is how many fans have already switched over to Andrew Luck jerseys," Swaney said.
"You look around the stands and so many fans are in a blue or a white jersey. I was sort of expecting to see mostly Peyton Manning jerseys (in 2012). They've very quickly embraced the future of our franchise."
When Swaney arrives at Lucas Oil Stadium, it is not the game that has his full attention. Instead, it is the surroundings inside the home of the Colts that has Swaney in awe when he enters the stadium.
"Not only are the fans friendly but I found the staff to be friendly," Swaney said. "It's something that you would be surprised at how many facilities overlook the fact of making sure that their staff is not only friendly, but also helpful and can point you in the right direction. I think that's part of a big experience as well."
Earlier this fall, the Colts brought in the Disney Institute to further enhance the relationship between the game day staff and the fans.
Those are gestures why Swaney points to why Lucas Oil Stadium heads into 2013 looking for a third trip atop the rankings.
From 2-14 to 11-5 and back in the playoffs, Swaney walked away from Lucas Oil Stadium amazed at the atmosphere he experiences each time.
"Not only this year with Andrew Luck when there was a lot of hype but (in 2011) that was a tough year to be a fan and people still were good fans and came out."
"That really reinforced that fans are devoted to this team."