It’s a new season, a new chapter, and Colts gameday has a brand new look.
“We wanted to give a little different look to our gameday and follow a little more along the lines of our branding that we’ve been working on the last couple of years,” said Joe Fonderoli, Senior Director of Events for the Colts.
The most noticeable changes come just before kickoff – when the lights go down and the excitement goes up.
“That was something we’ve never been able to do with the old lights. It would take way too long for them to get back to NFL level. So the stadium put in new LED lights and now, it’s as quick as flipping a switch more or less – being able to go lights out and back on.”
It adds a bit of drama and theatrics to the pre-game anticipation. And that’s by design.
“It was cool to hear, when we turned out the lights right before the team intro – kind of the gasp of the crowd,” Fonderoli said. “We really wanted to make that team intro a destination thing to see and to get everybody excited and even the players, I felt like they had a different excitement in the tunnel by turning the lights out and turning on the blue lights and the smoke.”
The blow up horse from the days at the RCA Dome has been replaced by a giant horseshoe the players run through.
And while the crowd is getting lit, so are they.
“You want those rallying points, especially in your pregame where everybody gets excited and they want to come in and see those things and be a part of it,” said Fonderoli. “It just kind of sets the tone for the rest of the game for fans to be involved and cheering and in it with the players.”
The anvil is still a part of the pregame festivities, only now from a new location.
“If you look around at some other places, when they have this tradition that’s part of their gameday, there’s always a fixed spot in their stadium. It’s a place that fans can walk by and see,” Fonderoli said. “That was one of the major reasons we wanted to find space in the stadium that the anvil could live and fans could take pictures with it and make it a little more of a focal point inside our stadium.”
Now located on the loge level in section 303, the anvil has a permanent place in Lucas Oil Stadium.
Before the start of the first home game and in its new home, the Colts invited a fan favorite back to pound the anvil, former cornerback Marlin Jackson.
“We’re celebrating 35 seasons and to kick it off, Marlin is a really good representation of a big piece of our history,” said Colts Events Manager Chelsea Durham. “We featured other alumni players last year. He’s a signature guy who’s remained local, so it was a good way to kick off the season with him and kick off the new tradition with the anvil in that location.”
For Jackson, it was a rush he hadn’t felt since his playing days.
“It brings back the feelings that I had when I played – getting ready to be introduced and to come out of the tunnel,” he said. “That was the first time I’ve had that intensity in a long time.”
And being next to the fans, the energy was palpable.
“You really can feed off the energy and feel it here,” he said.
And he must have passed on some good energy – because right after he pounded the anvil, in a play reminiscent of his famous interception of Tom Brady in the AFC Championship Game – cornerback Kenny Moore intercepted Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton.
“Look at that – a pick!” Jackson said. “It’s that DB magic. We just rubbed it off! It’s resonating through the stadium right now.”
Marlin’s still got it.
“I would say we kicked things off on the right note to start this season,” he said. “I’m very honored and grateful for the opportunity to be one of the first people this season to help kick things off.”
And he had a message for Colts fans: Stand behind your team.
“This is the beginning of something that’s going to be great. We need that confidence to resonate from the fans to the players to the entire city. So together, let’s support this team.”
PHOTOS: Bengals @ Colts 2018 - BEHIND THE SCENES
And the best way to do that - is live and in person.
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