DRAWING NEAR

The opening of the Colts' new home is drawing near. A little more than three months remain before the 2008 NFL season, and that means about three months before the opening of Lucas Oil Stadium, a state-of-the-art, retractable-roof facility in downtown Indianapolis.

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Lucas Oil Stadium Will Mean Enhanced Experience for Colts Fans

INDIANAPOLIS - The time is drawing near.

A little more than three months remain before the opening of the 2008 NFL season, and while that is a key date for any NFL team, it has an added imance around Indianapolis.

Because in August of 2008, more than a season will open in Indy.

A stadium will open, too.

Lucas Oil Stadium, a state-of-the-art, retractable-roof facility in downtown Indianapolis, will be the Colts' new home beginning in August – and, it was announced earlier this week, the site of the 2012 Super Bowl.

The first NFL regular-season game in Lucas Oil Stadium is scheduled for Sunday, September 7, 2008, when the Colts play the Chicago Bears, a game featuring the teams that played in Super Bowl XLI. But the Colts' first game in the new stadium will be a preseason game against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, August 24, at 8 p.m., a game that will be televised nationally on the NFL Network.

The three months before that will feature challenges, Colts Senior Executive Vice President Pete Ward said this week during a visit to Lucas Oil Stadium.

But Ward said the challenges will be met.

And he said the result will be a vastly-improved experience for Colts fans.

"The challenge is getting all the bells and whistles and the finishes completely done for the opener," Ward said. "That's going to be a challenge, as it is with most new venues.

"But we're confident that it will be something our fans will enjoy on opening day."

As Ward toured the stadium Thursday, he discussed with Colts.com many of the benefits of the mammoth facility, located across the street from the RCA Dome, the Colts' home since 1984.

The first thing people notice about the stadium, Ward said, is it's just, plain big – particularly compared to the RCA Dome. The stadium will seat over 63,000 compared to 55,531 for the RCA Dome. There are 141 luxury suites compared to 104 in the dome, and the average suite size is 491 square feet compared to 340 in the dome.

There are approximately 7,000 club seats in Lucas Oil (4,228 in the RCA Dome) and 62,000 square feet of club lounges compared to 13,300 in the dome.

From the outside, the difference is noticeable, too. The roof height of Lucas Oil is 270 feet, 77 feet taller than the dome, and there are seven levels in Lucas Oil compared to the dome's three. LOS sits on a 37.7-acre lot compared to 20 acres for the dome and the stadium's perimeter is over 3,800 feet, nearly double that of the dome's 2,130 feet.

Lucas Oil also includes features to enhance fan enjoyment. The RCA Dome featured 80 concession facilities; Lucas Oil will have nearly 150. The dome featured 665 toilets. LOS will have nearly 1,400, and while the RCA Dome had a minimum concourse width of 15 feet, the Lucas Oil Stadium's narrowest concourse will be 30 feet.

"It's just so different than the RCA Dome," Ward said. "It's so much bigger and contemporary. There are some pretty dramatic spaces that add to the experience."

Lucas Oil Stadium, which broke ground on September 20, 2005, is a massive seven-level structure that will feature not only the mechanized retractable roof, but a moveable "window wall," each of which will allow for quick conversion and allow Colts games to be played indoors or outdoors.

The retractable roof will divide lengthwise, with each half sliding down the stadium's sloping roof. The roof will be gabled, with the peak running north and south down the center of the field. The roof panels will move to the open position at the touch of a button in nine minutes.

One of the stadium's most unique features is the window wall – a windowed area at one end of the stadium that will allow additional light when closed and an open feel when opened. The wall is 214x88 feet, and made up of six 88x38 feet glass panels.

The window wall will separate at the center, with three panels on each side when open. It will open and close in six minutes.

Natural light, Ward said, "is a big element in this stadium."

"It was constructed with natural light in mind – throughout the concourse and the bowl," Ward said. "The windows are huge part of it, along with the skylights."

The facility will feature a field-turf field, and will hold 63,000 fans for football games – expandable to nearly 73,000 for larger events, such as Super Bowl XLVI – and approximately 45,000 for basketball. In addition to the 2012 Super Bowl, Lucas Oil Stadium is scheduled to hold the 2010 NCAA Men's Final Four and the 2011 NCAA Women's Final Four.

"Moving into the Lucas Oil Stadium later this year will be one of the highlights of the past twenty-five years," Colts Owner and Chief Executive Officer Jim Irsay said recently. "The building will be a mixture of the latest in technological and fan friendly design. What's even more exciting is that the Colts will continue our longstanding tradition of having some of the best sight lines in the NFL.

"Indianapolis has a well-deserved reputation for building world-class facilities such as Lucas Oil Stadium. We are fortunate to have strong partners with vision, energy and drive like the City of Indianapolis, the State of Indiana and – most definitely – Lucas Oil."

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