Monday, September 20, 2010

That Did Not Go As Planned

Well, after a long, hellish day at Laguardia airport yesterday, I was treated to an even longer, hellish football game if you're a fan of the New York Giants. I had grown dizzy from watching numbers on the scoreboard go up faster than that sign on Sixth Avenue that announces our national debt watching the Giants lose to the Colts, 38-14 in Indianapolis last night. In fact, I have to imagine my buddy Dov is impressed that nothing in Lucas Oil Stadium was broken by me. Then again, after missing my morning flight to Indianapolis yesterday -- my ticket only said that the gate closed 10 minutes before take off and checked bags had to be in 45 minutes -- because I was three minutes late for the 30 minute check-in cutoff, being in a football stadium rather than an airport was a joy.

My big plans for yesterday after arriving around noon involved a number of possibilities, like touring the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, visiting the NCAA Hall of Champions or having dinner with the king of Indiana High School Football reporting, Pat Dorsey.

Instead, I missed my flight because of any number of minor items that would have saved me a few minutes. The seven took five minutes to arrive. The Q33 Bus just sat for 10 minutes before leaving 74th St and Broadway. I took an unnecessary shower. I made a sandwich from leftover roast beef from my grandmother's Yom Kippur breakfast spread.

Why did I feel the need to make a damn sandwich?

Clearly, any momentary issue or item from yesterday morning could have been skipped or altered to the point that I would have made my flight, arrived for a full day or touristy travel around Indianapolis, and not made Dov wait around downtown Indy by himself for six hours.

Alas, sometimes those best laid plans falter.

Indianapolis has never been very high on my list of vacation hot spots. I'm told the downtown area is actually a bit of fun, but considering my flight issues, I didn't really get to see it. Regardless, it'd be worth a trip back to the Circle City to see the Colts -- though preferably not with this outcome.

And why?

Well, I'll give it a full run down at some later point, but the atmosphere at Lucas Oil Stadium comes close to rivaling what I experienced at Lambeau Field, which I consider perhaps the best sporting experience in America. The crowd was almost obsessively enthusiastic and the building was as loud as any I've ever been to -- deafeningly so. When I received a text from one friend asking me if it was as loud as it was on TV, my only thought was that it had to be even louder. The building was absolutely deafening whenever the Giants had the ball, making it not hard to see why they might have been confused once or twice.

Also, and perhaps more pertinently, the building is beautiful. Football stadiums, because of the uniformity of field, are very difficult to make interesting as architectural artistry is concerned. Until recent years, this wasn't even a concern in most brand new stadiums. Lucas Oil Stadium is one of a handful of stadiums that changes that notion, using a brickface exterior similar to retro baseball stadiums like Camden Yards to give a significantly more palatable visual, which, in the case of Lucas Oil is reminiscent of an old warehouse. In many ways, the building reminded me of one of my favorite venues in any sports, Williams Arena (a.k.a. The Barn) at the University of Minnesota.

The inside has great sightlines, and there is an intimate feel that almost blinds you to the other impressive architectural choices, namely the retractable roof, and the gigantic glass windows on the north side of the stadium that allow natural light to shine in even when the roof is closed. Also, kudos to the blue seats that reinforce the color scheme of the Colts' classic unis. It helps to retain the dignity of the franchise that is lost by the, uh, suggestive antics of its mascots.

Also, I only sampled one food item -- the pulled pork sandwich -- and while the visual consistency of the pulled pork was a little disconcerting, it was both delicious and extremely filling, which is hard to find at a stadium for $8.

Other stadium curios I dug: the fact that they actually played scenes from Hoosiers on the jumbotron, the Colts logo in the seats of the upper deck, the giant Colts helmet with TV screens in the face mask, Northwestern alum Chris Hinton in the ring of fame and the halftime visit by last year's Butler Men's Basketball team, which nearly won a cinderella National Championship.

All in all, it was a great night at the stadium -- you know, if you ignore the game. Fortunately, I wasn't the only person frustrated, though I probably picked better means by which to express them. In any event, my time in Indianapolis was productive, even if the Giants lost, and even if I remained in the city for a grand total of 13 hours.

Only 87 teams left. You're next, Minnesota Twins.

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