The Indianapolis Colts have announced they will require the stadium to be 100% full to avoid blackouts, rather than take advantage of the NFL’s new rule that allows for the team to relax the required capacity to 85% to avoid blackouts. This despite the fact that they have one of the greatest stadium deals in the NFL.
Lucas Oil stadium opened in 2008 and cost $720 million, of which the public paid around 87% through taxes on hotels and food and a tax on rental cars. For his part, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay kicked in $100 million, although $48 million of that came from the public buying out the Colts’ lease on the RCA Dome, so the public’s share was actually more like 92%. Irsay and the Colts also receive around $14 million per year for advertising in the stadium, $25 million for luxury seating, and $6 million per year for the naming rights to the stadium, all while paying nothing in rent.
Only one year after it opened, Lucas Oil Stadium was in danger of closing because its operating authority, the Capital Improvement Board, faced a $47.4 million operating deficit. This deficit was primarily because the costs of running Lucas Oil Stadium were higher than estimated. Irsay and the Colts refused to help out, even though the team receives $3.5 million annually from non-Colts related events. But Irsay was willing to raise the cost of the cheapest Colts ticket after only one season in the new stadium by 42%.
Irsay was asked for comment by Indianapolis Star writer Bob Kravitz, but chose to act like a teenage brat on Twitter rather than respond to Kravitz.