Thursday, November 04, 2010

More On That Retractable Roof That Never Opens, Rain Or Shine

WTHR's Mary Milz goes digging for some answers on why Lucas Oil Stadium's costly retractable roof has remained closed game after game this year despite good weather and hits a dry hole:

To open or close - that's the big question before every Colts home game and one that generates a lot of talk after games.


Take Monday night when the Colts hosted Houston at Lucas Oil Stadium. The the retractable roof received a lot of pre-game play. The temperature was near 50 degrees at kick-off. The Colts opted to keep the roof closed.

"It's not an exact science," said Colts senior executive vice president Pete Ward. Looking at the forecast, they thought "a majority of fans would want the roof closed."

The decision generated a lot of discussion on the WTHR Facebook page, with some applauding the decision and others criticizing it, saying, "What's the use of having it if you never use it?" . . .

Ward says it's all based on weather. There can't be lightning, strong winds or rain (There's no drainage system.) As for the temperature, Ward says contrary to popular thought, there's no 40-degree rule.


He said the Colts tend to follow 50-80-degree rule used at Houston's Reliant Stadium.

"We look at them as the voice of experience but reserve the right to do what's best for our fans," said Ward.

He said Peyton Manning doesn't call the shots on opening the roof and no, they don't keep it closed to keep it loud . . .

The roof has yet to open for the Circle City Classic held each fall or any of the major music competitions, but it did open for Kenny Chesney and a couple of high school football games.


Since Lucas Oil Stadium opened in 2008 the Colts have played 13 of 27 home games open air. If you do that math, that's so far, roughly $1.7 million each time the roof is open for the Colts, and that doesn't include $56,000 a year the Capital Improvement Board pays to maintain it.

Still, Ward says the roof makes Lucas Oil a top stadium in the NFL and one the Colts expect to call home for many years to come . . .
Milz says the Stadium authority told her the retractable roof added $20 to $25 million to the $700 million cost of the stadium. That figure is way off. When the new stadium was originally being planned, it was going to be an open air stadium because that was what NFL fans supposedly wanted. Stadiums built in the years prior to Lucas Oil Stadium were largely open air. After the plans were being drawn up, Colts' owner Jim Irsay threw out a demand for a retractable roof according to my sources. I think part of the reason he made the demand was pure profit. If Fred Glass and Bart Peterson were stupid enough to negotiate a deal that would allow him to keep all of the revenues from non-game events and pay none of the stadium's operating expenses, why wouldn't he want a facility at which he could host events year round in any weather and pile up his profits at our expense? The cost of constructing a stadium with a retractable roof added about $70 million to its price tag I'm told. The $1.7 million per game costs she cites for those few games the stadium roof has been open to date is way low. Despite spending all of that extra money for this feature, the stadium authority opted not to spend an additional million dollars on a drainage system, which means if it rains while the roof is retracted, there is no place for the precipitation to drain. I don't care what Ward tells Milz. I think the comfort factor and the noise factor are the real reasons behind the reluctance to open the roof. There is simply no other explanation since wind and temperature cannot be blamed for all of those games this year the roof has remained closed.

9 comments:

Concerned Taxpayer said...

""It's not an exact science," said Colts senior executive vice president Pete Ward. Looking at the forecast, they thought "a majority of fans would want the roof closed.""
Well, luckily, they have "Thought Police" that can determine if fans want the roof open or closed.
It looks like so far, the fans have wanted it closed.
WHAT A WASTE OF MONEY.

Had Enough Indy? said...

Maybe a pigeon is stuck in the mechanism, and the CAN'T open the roof...

In a previous blog entry, somebody mentioned the affect of the sunlight/shadow on the players as the 'real' reason the roof doesn't get opened on gamedays.

artfuggins said...

The CIB says that the call belongs to the NFL.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Going off memory, which is always risky, I recall a story that puting drainage in would have cost $500K. Now maybe there were other costs to making the LOS resistent to weather, I don't know.

As far as the retractable roof, I remember the costs between a fixed roof and a retractable roof facily being like $200 million difference.

Advance Indiana said...

The only requirement of the NFL is that the roof remained opened or closed the entire game; it cannot be opened part of the game and closed the other part of the game.

Cato said...

And the NFL wouldn't complain, at all, if a deluge hit and the roof was closed to keep everyone dry and safe.

They have the rule to prevent monkey business.

Do you really think that the announcers would side with the NFL if the Colts tried to close the roof amidst a horrible rainstorm but were informed they couldn't?

Plus, if both coaches agree, the issue is moot. You could even set it as a ground rule at the beginning of the game.

Downtown Indy said...

What's crazy is football is an 'outdoor' sport.

Oh, and not only is the field not waterproof, neither is the scorboard.

Marycatherine Barton said...

If Irsay did not own so many of our elected officials, then we taxpayers would not have to be concerned about his Colt's costs.

David said...

Wasn't it a no brainer before the stadium was built that a retractable roof was not going to be able to get much use? They play in several cold months of the year. it's not like baseball where the majority of the season is played during the warm months. I think retractable roofs for football are stupid given how few games they have each year. If your going to build a roof make it a permanent one it's not worth the cost of a retractable one where you can only use it 1 or 2 games a year.