On my way out of Chicago Monday, I stopped by Wrigley Field to say hi to my favorite ballpark. When I was planning out my trips I was hoping the Cubs game would get picked up as the Sunday Night Baseball game, but I was out of luck on this trip. This is the first summer in five years I haven’t gone to a game at Wrigley- guess I’m unintentionally protesting the new scoreboard addition. I hopped on the Lake Shore Dr highway and can we all agree that’s the best highway ever? You have the best of both worlds to look at- Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline. My happiness was short-lived, as I ran into typical Chicago traffic on I-94. I was definitely not feeling the city as I poked along. The traffic situation had me so worked up (I road rage a little too hard), I forgot to say goodbye to US Cellular Field. I have these small, silly, now traditions when visiting Chicago, and I was off my game.

The traffic also set back my arrival time in Indianapolis by more than an hour and I felt rushed. This was just the start of a crappy football visit. When I finally did get to the city I was almost t-boned by someone running a red light. Seriously dude?! My level of annoyance was high, but it lessened when I found free street parking at a meter. After seeing parking ranging from $10-30 nearby, I was grateful. The spot was about a mile/mile and a half from the stadium and it allowed me to walk through the mix of bar and tailgate pre-gaming that Colts fans were partaking in. As I got closer to Lucas Oil Stadium, there were more block parties. This city doesn’t have an open container law so you can walk around with your drinks from place to place. I wish all cities were like this, at least on game days.

Due to my sitting in traffic longer than I anticipated, I didn’t have much time before kickoff to take in the scene around the stadium. I had to meet my contact from the Colts at the ticket service window inside the stadium, so I entered the south gate and of course picked the slowest line. It made me sad to see how bad people were at being ready to enter the gate. Get stuff out of your pockets, have your ticket out, read the bag policy. People, this isn’t that hard. The fans behind me were equally frustrated and complained that they shouldn’t have jumped lines as their friends were already inside.

Once in I walked over to our meeting place and checked in with my contact. Everyone I met with the Colts organization was so kind and I relaxed a bit as I left the office. That relaxed feeling was fleeting as I realized Lucas Oil Stadium has almost zero standing room. Ahhhh! There’s very large concourse along the north end zone were the stadium opens its large windows, but the actual standing room is quite small and it was packed already with fans. I struggled to try to get my pre-game pictures of me with the game’s matchup but it was impossible. The team match-up on the video board across the field was too small for my phone camera to focus on and I got blurry results. At least I have the time stamp on the pictures I did take to prove that I was there before kick!

Frustrated with the terrible view of the field since I was far back in the standing room crowd, I decided I needed to go up a level and see if that was better. I took the escalator up found there wasn’t very much standing room in the 300 level seats. What I did like was how loud the crowd got for the third down (really most of the first few series). The Colts also play third down bells, so I was transported back to Ohio Stadium. Instant points in my book Indy! Some of those points were taken back once I spied a “Go Blue” banner. Yuck. I weaved in and out of a skinny corridor and found you can stand in entry ways to watch the game. This was a much better option than the crowded end zone standing room. While I was up there, I met a Bengals fan wearing a Jets jersey doing the same. He said he liked coming to Colts games for the atmosphere and that if I thought it was loud now, I should come to games when the windows are closed. I bet it’s insane. The 12th man in Indy is gunning for you, Seattle!

I continued around the stadium popping in and out of entry ways of the 300 level watching the game during the first quarter before deciding I would go up to my seat. The ramp from the 300 to upper levels is the longest, most ridiculous ramp in the world. I thought it would never end… would I be stuck in there the entire game? Maybe I’m being a bit overdramatic. Ok, I know I’m being overdramatic, but it was a significantly long walk back and forth. Finally, I was free and in the upper concourse. There wasn’t very much standing room on the south end zone side, but I found this perfect little corner that was very Jack and Rose standing on Titanic. That had to be what they had in mind when they made it, there’s no other logical explanation. I took the best picture (above) and I hope you do the same when you visit Lucas Oil Stadium.

For halftime, I met up with a former coworker, Allie who was in town to see her Jets in the Bud Light Zone. It was packed, but it was a cool area with a great view of the city and the field. We talked about the first half and she said Colts fans were treating them well but wondered if they would be as kind once the game ended. We also made the same observation that the dance moves of the Colts cheerleaders were maybe a little risqué. They were definitely a bit more sexual than the other cheer groups I’ve seen at stadiums. I’m not a prude, but is that absolutely necessary at a football game? I guess so.

After halftime, I stopped at a concession stand to buy a pretzel and was pleasantly surprised by the low concession prices. Only $3.75 for a pretzel?! Hooray! Also, I asked for an unsalted one and since they didn’t have any left, they gave me a free soda for the “inconvenience.” That was the best customer service I’ve received in any stadium, ever. I’ve scraped plenty of salt off pretzels over the years, but yes I would love a free drink for the trouble. Walking across the concourse I almost wiped out on a spill (thanks flip flops), but managed to not fall and save my drink. I crabbily cursed the world in my head and went to find my seat. Once I finally sat down and ate the pretzel, I realized I’d been walking around on the hangry side.

This was just not my day and it wasn’t Andrew Luck or the Colts day either. They were struggling and I listened to the fans around me voice displeasure and bemoan a potential 0-2 start. Earlier that game I had been looking at the banners in the rafters celebrating countless back to back playoff appearances and thought they were jumping the gun a bit. Someone even went as far to say Andrew Luck sucks. Hahahahahahaha. I almost turned around and laughed in that guy’s face, but I’m polite. I will trade both Josh McCown and Johnny Manziel (sorry dude, know you got us a win Sunday, but it’s Andrew Luck!) for him any day. Get back to me. I love eavesdropping on fan banter, especially when it’s not my team- always entertaining.

Once the fourth quarter started I realized I hadn’t actually done a loop around the main concourse as I had gotten to the stadium a little later than normal. Reluctantly I got up and made my way back down the crazy ramp and once in the 300 level, I rode the escalator down to the main level. The view of the field is nice on the escalator; I kinda wish I had just ridden that up and down the entire game. The main concourse is ad central. Every square inch is covered in advertisements, a stark contrast to Soldier Field where I had been the day before. The main opening in the north end zone was Lucas Oil’ed out which totally made sense and I liked looking at the cars, bikes, and trackers. As I made the large loop I saw all the stadium sponsors- Meijer, Huntington (my bank!), Verizon, a casino (test your Luck… puny), and so on. Not my style, but if that’s what makes the Colts able to offer affordable ticket and concession prices to fans, then I’m all for it.

Fans were filing out after a late Jets touchdown and I was able to pop down and watch the rest of the game from one of the large stand entrances. The Jets got the win, making me 1-4 for the home team. I told my friend Liz that I’m bad luck for the home team and she spun it that I’m good luck for the visiting team because I’m a visitor too. I’ll roll with that for now! After the game ended I went back to the ticket service window and my game witness, Larry signed my book. He also let me try on his Super Bowl rings. Not bad couple pieces of jewelry! As I left the stadium, I almost walked into a sign while on my phone. The small irony is that I was pulling up a map to find where I had parked my car. I laughed it off with other fans and hoped no cameras were watching that particular area. It was the perfect ending to my imperfect visit to Indianapolis.

Remember I am raising money for the Ronald McDonald House in Central Ohio. Please donate by clicking here.

Special thank you to Larry for his time and assistance during my visit!

Advertisements