INDIANAPOLIS —We're back on top.
Lucas Oil Stadium, the home of the Indianapolis Colts, was recently ranked by Stadium Journey's Paul Swaney as the fifth-best stadium experience of all professional sports in the United States and Canada, making it the best among all National Football League venues.
Lucas Oil Stadium had earned the title of best NFL stadium for five straight years from 2011 through 2015 before Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium earned that distinction for the 2016 season.
Each year, Stadium Journey has its 100 writers provide a list of their Top 10 sports venues in North America, including stadiums, ballparks and arenas at all levels of competition. This year, four Major League Baseball parks — Wrigley Field (Chicago; No. 1), Fenway Park (Boston; No. 2), AT&T park (San Francisco; No. 3) and Oriole Park at Camden Yards (Baltimore; No. 4) took the top four spots before Lucas Oil Stadium made its appearance.
Here's what Swaney had to write about why the Lucas Oil Stadium experience has been considered among the best in all of professional sports, including in the past year:
"Lucas Oil Stadium celebrated its tenth anniversary this past season and the experience keeps on getting better for fans of the Indianapolis Colts. The facility is nestled in between downtown and the many interstates providing easy access to the games either by foot or car. Once the visitor is within a few blocks of the stadium, that's when the excitement begins. The home of the Colts has consistently ranked as one of the best stadium experiences in all of sports for Stadium Journey – ranking as the best overall stadium experience in 2012. It has been our highest ranked NFL stadium every year, but once (when it was ranked 2nd in the NFL), since we began publishing our annual rankings in 2011."
Larry Hall, the Colts' Vice President of Ticket Operations and Guest Services, told Colts.com's Heather Lloyd in 2016 that his staff certainly doesn't take this sort of recognition lightly.
"This is not an award that Lucas Oil Stadium gained, it's an award that the Colts game day experience is No. 1," he said. "And that certainly is Lucas Oil Stadium, but it's also the staff, it's the fans, it's the way our players treat each other and opponents, it's the whole thing.
"It's certainly a product of who we are as a people," Hall continued. "I know that Midwestern folks have that in general. I think in Indiana, maybe even more so. I've always said we have the best fans in the NFL when it comes to sportsmanship and enthusiasm, those two things combined."
Some of my favorite images of Lucas Oil Stadium!