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Lucas Oil Stadium Ranks as 11th Toughest Stadium to Play In

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Earlier this week ESPN ran a poll earlier in the week ranking the NFL's toughest places to play according to a panel of their sportswriters.

Lucas Oil Stadium ranked 11th. No AFC South home cracked the top 10.

One writer Tim Graham put Lucas Oil second on his ballot. As Graham explained: "The Colts' home record since

LucasOil Stadium opened is 19-4. It's not as loud as the RCA Dome was, but players don't like going there. The Jets

marvel at how savvy the Colts fans are, falling almost silent for Peyton Manning and then going bonkers when the

visiting offense takes the field. Jets tight end Dustin Keller said before their playoff game, 'It's ridiculous. It really

shakes you up.'" 

Solid points and his reasoning certainly shows respect to our fans. Grahams' comments are also a testament to the high Sports IQ of Hoosier fans. Something we take with great pride. 

However, the poll left me a little sad and nostalgic for the RCA Dome.

I'll explain why after the jump.

The days of luxury football stadiums is somewhat disheartening. These mammoth architectural wonders are 'nice' to see a game in sure. But when you go for a game do you really want 'nice?' If so, should you really be going to the game? If comfort is key, why not stay at home?

It's great that these stadiums try to enhance the fan experience. Don't get me wrong, The Luke is awesome and definitely engenders a pride in the team and city. It also brought us a Super Bowl, which can't be discounted.

At the same time, we are sacrificing crowd noise and a home field advantage for fan comfort. Sure we are paying a lot of money to attend. But aren't we there to help are team? Wouldn't we rather have a winning team than a super deluxe, luxury stadium (ahem Dallas). 

The great thing about the RCA Dome, was that for all of its discomfort it was freaking loud. Jack Del Rio complained about the crowd noise every time the Jags came to town. So too did a few other coaches and players. It was a huge advantage. Never was it more so than our stirring comeback in the 2006 AFC Championship game against the Pats. After the game, the Pats went as far as to file a complaint saying that the Colts had pumped in crowd noise.

False. I was there and way at the top and I can tell you people were just that loud and the noise carried really well. I also believe it is one of the reasons that we won that night and that had we been playing in an outdoor stadium or even possibly The Luke, the outcome might have been different.

Here's why: 

When the Colts started making the comeback the crowd was as big a part of it as anything. The noise caught the players off guard and pumped the Colts up to levels we haven't seen since. For most of the second half the Colts weren't sitting. Neither were the fans. We fed off each other, the Colts twitching eagerly on the sidelines waiting to make a play that would drive the place into even more of a frenzy. It was infectious. We the fans were caught up in the moment of a first Super Bowl and were going to do everything possible to will the Colts to victory. Losing our voices didn't matter. 

On the other side, after completing silencing the crowd early, the increased decibels confused the Pats (no more so than on the final series when Brady threw that pick). The Pats seemed disjointed. They suddenly had to go to the silent count, something that they had been talking about all week prior, but evidently had not mastered. Switching your routine midway through the game because of something other than an in-game adjustment focusing on the other team is off-putting. Watching the replay of that game you could see why. Brady was visibly frustrated and unable to hear the play calls. The Colts were in the Pats heads on the field and the crowd noise was in their heads equally as much off it. 

That wouldn't have happened at The Luke. It just isn't as loud. The acoustics just aren't the same. Would the outcome have been any different? Who knows. Maybe not, but why chance it?

The point is, why is the focus of these new stadiums on luxury, something that comparatively the fans will get over as opposed to crowd noise, which is a game changing element. 

Are we that spoiled that for eight times a year, three hours at a time we can't rough it. Who needs luxury anyway?If you do, stay home kick back on the leather sofa and eat nachos the chef just whipped up. Let the diehards go instead. Either way though, shouldn't we be standing the whole time anyway? And what about the fact that crowd noise might prolong a season? Sounds crazy at first (especially to Colts fans), but think about it. If you are 8-8, a game or two can make a huge difference.

Look, I love The Luke and am proud to have it. I just wish that the architects focused more on acoustics is all so we could help our team even more. There was something about the RCA Dome at the end. This feeling that you knew upgrades were needed but you didn't want to give it up.

If you look at the top three stadiums on the list, Lambeau Field, Oakland-Alameda Coliseum and Arrowhead Stadium, they are all like that. They are all miserable places to play, which ironically makes them such classic venues. 


My hope is that until architects can figure out a way to blend luxury without sacrificing noise, that stadiums in the future focus less on the glitz and more on the team.