INDIANAPOLIS — Nearly three weeks into the NFL season and the Indianapolis Colts finally get to play a game at Lucas Oil Stadium. It’s a later start than most restaurants and bars are used to but owners and staff are happy it’s here either way.
”It’s the one thing that everybody looks forward to man, ‘When’s football seasons start, when’s football season start,'” Rob Strong, the owner of the Whistle Stop Inn said.
The view from the front windows of Whistle Stop Inn is Lucas Oil Stadium – so close it’s almost like you’re there.
”When the windows are open you can hear the fans, even when they’re closed you can hear the fans and what’s going on because we’re so close,” Strong said.
This is the best time of the year for the longtime bar, Strong said.
”It means everything, home games are huge, it’s massive,” he said.
Whistle Stop Inn opens for fans at 10 a.m. Sunday and doesn’t close until well into the night. Strong said home game Sundays, and the weekends around them, help the business to thrive.
”We get packed, it’s amazing, it’s such an increase in business,” he said.
From a veteran downtown spot to possibly the newest, The Fountain Room in Bottleworks is looking forward to the Colts being back home, too.
”Just looking at the books, our reservations are up about 50% over a normal Sunday,” said Blake Fogelsong, the owner of the The Fountain Room
Fogelsong said the supper club mixed with a steak house has been open for about two months. He expects to see a 40 to 50% increase in revenue on home game Sundays.
”Especially the sold out games, to get that after-crowd and have the bar fill up, as well,” he said.
It’s not just colts fans these businesses are looking forward to serving.
”Hopefully we’ll see some away fans and we’re not going to turn away somebody for wearing a Chiefs’ jersey or something,” Fogelsong said.
Strong said he expects fans of the Chiefs, the Colts week three opponent, to travel well for this game.
”It brings everybody out, including the traveling teams, they usually travel pretty well,” he said.
For fans heading downtown, these two owners said folks can expect staff ready for the big crowds.
”Staff gets geared up for it, everybody is pumped,” Strong said. “Getting to see people you haven’t seen in a year come back in.”
Being in Indy, there is always a rooting interest for the Colts but a winning team is also good for business. The Colts currently stand at 0-1-1 after some early season struggles, Strong said the Horseshoe being in town is good regardless.
”Whether the Colts do good or they don’t, it is a little better when they do good, but we’re going to hit our mark,” Strong said.
The Colts are expecting more than 60,000 tickets to go out for this game so downtown should be packed. Downtown Indy Inc is encouraging fans to arrive early to avoid traffic and find a good parking spot.