On March 28, 1984, the Colts arrived in Indianapolis. But they didn't just bring professional football to Indiana – they wove themselves into the fabric of the state, the communities, and society.
This year marks a milestone for the Colts. And to celebrate, they teamed up with the Indiana Historical Society to look back on the journey that brought them here and reflect on how far they've come.
"This year will mark the 35th season in Indianapolis, making this the perfect time to share our story with all of Indiana," said Vice Chair and Owner Carlie Irsay-Gordon. "Through this exhibit, football fans and all fans of history will have a chance to learn about the history of the Colts and of pro football in America, you'll get to know some of the legendary players who have worn the Horseshoe, and relive some of the Colts' greatest moments in Indianapolis."
Over three decades, the Colts grew up in Indianapolis and helped grow Indianapolis along the way.
"From the team's start at the Hoosier Dome and later to Lucas Oil Stadium, the Colts have helped define the landscape of Indianapolis," said John Herbst, President and CEO of the Indiana Historical Society. "Having a professional football team helped to take our self esteem from Naptown or Indianoplace to the vibrant, thriving city that we know today."
A preview of the new Indianapolis Colts Exhibit at the Indiana Historical Society.
On Thursday night, the Indiana Historical Society held a VIP opening of Indianapolis Colts: The Exhibit. Colts staff, including former players and cheerleaders, were joined by IHS staff and other invited guests to preview the exhibit.
"I thought it was pretty neat," said former offensive lineman and current sports radio host Joe Staysniak. "It's funny, because it kind of takes you back. I was there for the implosion. I played in that building and to look back at some of the pictures," he said, "it makes you start thinking – boy, since 1984 so much has happened – not only with the football team, but with the city and how far the city has come."
Through an artistic display of images, artifacts, and interactives, guests can walk through the stories of football in America and the Colts in Indianapolis.
"We've got stories about the construction of Lucas Oil Stadium, we have interactives both physical and digital where you get to vote for your favorite Colts player, you also get to pose with your favorite Colts player and you can email a picture of him to your email address," said Jeff Mills, Senior Director of Exhibit Planning and Development for IHS. "We've got actual Colts artifacts here, we've got Peyton Manning's jersey and his play card wristband, we've got Andrew Luck's jersey here as well. We've got a football from the 2007 AFC Championship Game, we've got the groundbreaking shovel from Lucas Oil Stadium."
Football has a unique ability to bring people together. It's what the Colts have been doing in Indianapolis since 1984.
"I think the key with sports is to reflect the culture and show that we evolve and change with the culture," said Irsay-Gordon. "And hopefully if we're doing our job, we're telling the story and we're representing an identity that people in our community can be really proud of."
This season, the Colts start writing a new chapter under Head Coach Frank Reich.
And they hope it'll be one for the history books.
Indianapolis Colts: The Exhibit debuts to the public on Saturday, March 10th and runs through Jan. 20, 2020 at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center, located at 450 W. Ohio St. in downtown Indianapolis. Opening day hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with a special Fur Bowl from noon to 3 p.m.
The Fur Bowl, hosted in partnership with IndyHumane, allows families to draft a new pet for their roster. Cats and dogs may be held for adoption, but will not be available to take home the same day. The Fur Bowl and Indianapolis Colts: The Exhibit are included with admission to the Indiana Experience, which is $9 for adults, $8 for seniors and $5 for kids (ages 5 to 17). IHS members and children under 5 receive free admission.
For more information about the exhibit, or other IHS offerings, call (317) 232-1882 or visit www.indianahistory.org.