INDIANAPOLIS – When Super Sunday dawns in Indianapolis on February 5, the venue for the NFL's championship event will be as worthy as the teams vying for the Lombardi Trophy.
Indianapolis becomes the 14th site to host a Super Bowl, and four-year-old Lucas Oil Stadium will be up for the event. Make that more than up for the event.
The 1.8-million square foot stadium with seven levels will be expanded from the regular capacity of 63,000 to 68,000 to accommodate the title event featuring New England and the New York Giants.
For those on hand and for a viewership that should top 150,000,000, Lucas Oil Stadium will come across as one of the best venues to host a Super Bowl. It has won previous awards for its design, and the latest comes from Stadium Journey, The Magazine.
Magazine Co-Founder Paul Swaney finds Lucas Oil Stadium the "jewel" of Indianapolis. Swaney points out the stadium has hosted the Big Ten Championship game this past season, as well as the 2010 Final Four that featured Duke and Butler.
The magazine ranks Lucas Oil Stadium first in its 'Best Stadiums of 2011' tour. It cites the sell out crowds that attend Colts games. Indianapolis has not played in front of less than a capacity crowd during its four seasons in the stadium. The magazine lauds the proximity of the stadium to downtown restaurants and other establishments, along with parking space and the ability for fans to get to the stadium easily.
Swaney feels the immensity of the stadium is overcome with a deftness that provides an intimate feel once spectators find their seats. The spacing of the seats in a normal configuration rated as one of the stadium's strong points. Pricing for the stadium also comes in for compliments, as is the manner of the crowds.
While Swaney's review of the stadium comes from a fan's perspective, the stadium also must accommodate the working concerns of those projecting the game. The networks that televise Colts games – CBS, NBC, FOX, ESPN and the NFL Network – have found Lucas Oil Stadium to be among the best in the league.
NBC's lead football producer, Fred Gaudelli, will call the shots for Super Bowl XLVI. Gaudelli has visited the stadium numerous times for Colts games and throughout this year in preparation for a telecast that will be seen by millions. Gaudelli echoes the compliments Swaney and his publication have given to Lucas Oil Stadium.
"Starting with the naming – Lucas Oil Stadium – I don't think there has been another stadium where the naming rights have been so creatively displayed and woven into the fabric of the stadium, whether it's the plaza area with the different vehicles Lucas Oil has been a part of through the years," said Gaudelli. "It's indigenous to Indianapolis, where racing has been such a huge sport. From that end, I've always been very, very enamored how the naming rights were integrated into the stadium.
"From a television perspective, it just has a lot of neat features. Obviously, the retractable roof won't be in operation on Super Bowl Sunday, but I love it. I think it's tremendous. I love the big glass windows that give you the view of downtown. I think every seat in the house is fantastic. The camera angles and the sight lines are exactly what you want from a television perspective."
Hall-of-Fame running back Marshall Faulk never played in Lucas Oil Stadium while with the Colts from 1994-98. He has been back to Lucas Oil Stadium regularly for his assignments with the NFL Network. One of those assignments, the Combine, held annually in the stadium in February, is a five-to-six day event that brings together many of the league's owners and all of the NFL's general managers and head coaches. Faulk believes people have taken note of the stadium, and that is one reason why a Super Bowl has been added to the list of Lucas Oil's championship events.
"I don't know who designed it. I don't know who built it, but it's a gem," said Faulk. "It's one of the top ones (NFL stadiums) that we have in our game. When you think about what you have in Dallas and Arizona, I would put it up there with those stadiums."
NFL SUPER BOWL NOTES
*Anthem performers for the Super Bowls involving the Colts: Super Bowl III – Anita Bryant; Super Bowl V – Tommy Loy (trumpeter); Super Bowl XLI – Billy Joel; Super Bowl XLIV – Carrie Underwood.
*Halftime performers for the Super Bowls involving the Colts: Super Bowl III – Florida A&M University Band; Super Bowl V – Florida A&M University Band; Super Bowl XLI – Prince; Super Bowl XLIV – The Who.
*A total of 47 players have won Super Bowls with more than one team. Colts players who make the list are kicker Adam Vinatieri (Colts/New England), defensive tackle Dan Klecko (Colts/New England), center Bill Curry (Colts/Green Bay), linebacker Ted Hendricks (Colts/Oakland/LA), quarterback Earl Morrall (Colts/Miami), wide receiver Ricky Proehl (Colts/St. Louis) and defensive back Dexter Reid (Colts/New England).
*A total of 12 Super Bowls have featured re-matches between teams from a regular-season meeting. The team that lost the regular-season game is 7-5. The most recent such Super Bowl was XLII, with the Giants beating the Patriots after the Patriots beat the Giants in the regular season.
SUPER BOWL – Quote/Unquote
"It's something you have forever to symbolize what you and your teammates accomplished. It's so special to be able to win one as a player, and 20 years later, get one as a coach and become one of the few people who have ever done that." – Leslie Frazier, who won as a player with Chicago and as an assistant coach with the Colts