March Madness Lives Here: The Road Ends in Indy

Aerial view of Lucas Oil Stadium with Downtown Indianapolis in the background (Photo: Kelly Wilkinson Indianapolis Star)

What a journey we’ve been on? What started back in sleepy Dayton, Ohio has taken us to the historic KeyArena in the great Pacific Northwest to the Jacksonville War Memorial Coliseum in Florida and finishes back in the Midwest in Indianapolis, fittingly home to the NCAA. This year’s Final Four will go down at the 10-year-old brick edifice Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana. Although it’s the home of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts, Lucas Oil Stadium is said to have been inspired by Indiana’s great field houses, most notably Butler University’s Hinkle Fieldhouse.

There are some similarities, most notably the large cathedral-style windows at either end that will generously wash the early tip-off tomorrow night in natural light. The brick facade and old-time font give the building a cozy, Indiana charm but the 65,000-seats and gargantuan scale make it read more like an airport hanger than historic field house.

Nevertheless, the seating bowl is said to have been designed with basketball in mind and the court will be put smack in the middle of the stadium, not in the end zone, bifurcating the interior, like we saw at Syracuse’s Carrier Dome. The court will be raised about two feet above the football field, supposedly to create better viewing angles, although if you are in the upper reaches of the Luke, two feet won’t help much.

The weather forecast is for 55° and sunny on Saturday and wouldn’t it be a coup if the stadium managers found a way to convince those calling the shots to open the retractable roof overhead or the cathedral windows at both ends? Outdoor hoops, as American as Rucker Park and Indiana cornfields. Enjoy the games everyone.