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