Fans "take signals from Peyton Manning almost as well as the offense does," keeping "deathly silent when Peyton is calling plays at the line, but as soon as the ball is snapped we let loose." "You can't hear yourself think in the Dome." As much as that is a tribute to the success Manning has brought to the Colts, it also reflects a maturing fan base that was "pretty quiet and even booed on occasion when we were first going to games 15 years ago." No matter how "united with the Colts" fans are, "we're still nice to the opposing fans." Of course, with a shiny new Super Bowl championship banner to gaze at, it's easy to be nice.
6 out of 10
FOOD & SOUVENIRS
Soda (32 oz.)
Beer (24 oz.)
Expected Meal Cost
"The food is above average, but nothing is really excellent." "The beverage selection is pretty good," led by "The Ram, a local brew pub that sells craft beer from a kiosk." Should you hope to avoid the otherwise "generic" options, the rib tips downstairs are excellent." "If you are lucky enough to have access to either of the "Touchdown Clubs below the stands" on each side of the stadium, you'll find "TV screens all around and leather couches and private food service."
5 out of 10
"The stadium is in the heart of downtown," at a "busy intersection," but "after all the years of dealing with traffic from the Indy 500 and NCAA basketball tournament games" "police have traffic direction for big downtown events down to a science." They get a lot of help from the fact that Indianapolis "is on a grid that gives access to lots of public parking well within walking distance of the stadium." "This is primarily a driving city" (which may be why some lament city "buses are outnumbered and undersized for stadium crowds"), "so roads are equipped for high-volume traffic." "If you have to travel on either of the major interstates (I-70 or I-65), there are several exits that will dump you downtown within blocks of the RCA Dome." "Everything downtown is close," and "sufficient parking makes for a walk of no more than five minutes to the stadium," which "allows you to enjoy one activity and then easily walk to the game."
6 out of 10
"A small but lively tailgating scene in the lot just south of the Dome" has been "scattered" "now that the lot has been shutdown to build Lucas Oil Stadium." "There's no festival-like feeling." "If you know the right people, it's an active scene; if you don't, you wouldn't know it's there." Further hampering tailgate efforts is "the fact that the stadium is downtown close to many bars and restaurants," many of which "are really hopping" on game days. Still, tailgating had "improved drastically" over the last few seasons, but "we will have to see this year."
6 out of 10
Peyton Manning; Joseph Addai :: Al Tielemans/SI
Record through Week 9
Players Worth Watching
Peyton Manning (QB), Marvin Harrison (WR), Joseph Addai (RB), Dwight Freeney (DE), Bob Sanders (DB)
9 out of 10
For a stadium in its final year -- the Colts move across the street into the retractable-roofed Lucas Oil Stadium next season -- the RCA Dome has "aged a fair amount and feels smaller than other stadiums," but still wins points with fans for being "loud" and "intimate." To most, though, "it has the comforts of a wooden shoe." "Cramped," "narrow" concourses make "you feel like you're being herded everywhere." "The upper deck is bleacher seating, which makes for a very uncomfortable three hours of game-watching." Those in other levels don't seem to have it much better, considering "seats are big enough for ¾ of a person." "There's nothing particularly nostalgic or architecturally attractive" about the place," "although it is clean and well-maintained." "The Dome reflects Indiana culture: not many frills and the action on the field is what we're there to see."
5 out of 10
Situated amid the "urban environment" that is downtown Indianapolis, the RCA Dome is "blocks away" from "plenty of great restaurants," "cool bars" and "shopping all around." The "hotels," "theaters," "art galleries" and "a museum campus" "all within walking distance" "makes a great all-day experience." After the game, "the Slippery Noodle is a great Blues bar and a place for the average Joe," though Peyton Manning has been known to warble 'Rocky Top' at Indy's oldest bar. "Indianapolis is the single-most amenity-filled location in the country." With the Colts' new home set to open next to the Dome next year, that isn't likely to change.
10 out of 10
Colts fans will likely shrug their shoulders when the RCA Dome closes its doors at the close of the 2007 season, which is a better send-off than most domes receive. Part of that credit goes to being located in a clean, vibrant downtown; part of that goes a team taking pains to maintain their arena; and part -- make that most -- of that goes to being able to watch Peyton Manning treat the field like one giant pinball machine. The dome may not add much to the game-day experience other than a shelter from bad weather, but it hasn't detracted from it, either, a formula that has made the Colts the star of each Sunday. In the Manning era, that's been good for business. As that era eventually comes to a close, the Colts might well need the grand platform they will move into next season.