INDIANAPOLIS — At the end of five weeks of Indianapolis Colts football so far this season, it’s safe to say with a 3-2 record, sparks have flown on and off the field… and sometimes, even high above it.
How about 100 feet above or higher?
That’s Eric Diehl’s job as Queen City Fireworks operator. He and his team of skilled pyrotechnical engineers have been greenlighted this season, giving the Colts more opportunities to blast off with fireworks and more to captivate fans during gamedays in the city.
While you might think you know Lucas Oil Stadium and the gameday experience like the back of your hand, there might be some areas, and additions, you may have missed or simply never seen.
“Depending on where you’re at in the stadium… I know, we’re easily 100 plus feet here and I know it gets upwards of the high 200’s up on the upper catwalks,” Diehl said. “If the butterflies are ever gone, it’s probably time to walk away.”
From above… make that… high above Lucas Oil Stadium, Eric Diehl and his team huddle up. Both his team, and the one below him, are hoping for explosive action. In fact, Diehl’s explosives above rely on the Colts and their firepower below.
“It’s just as jolting, if not a little more, for us when big plays happen right? Because we’re making sure that it’s a legitimate touchdown before we pull the trigger. So, if you think you feel excited… so do we but we’re staying focused on, do we see any flags? Or is it actually a touchdown – ok cool, lets send it,” Diehl said. “It’s fun adding that little extra exclamation point to the end of it, while the crowd’s enjoying themselves as it is.”
Initially based in Cincinnati, hence, Queen City Fireworks, Diehl handles the pyrotechnics for the Bengals and also mans the catwalk for the Colts.
“It’s a hobby! It was a hobby that started when I was young,” Diehl said. “It’s something we’ve always enjoyed being part of. Here or any other show that we do. It’s a piece of the puzzle that somebody gets to come and enjoy it. They don’t need to know how it got done.”
But this time, that’s exactly what you will see – how it got done, and how this year is different.
“This will be the first year in a few years that we’re able to bring pyrotechnics back,” Indianapolis Colts Director of Events Caleb Bailey said. “We can’t do it on the field… but we are able to bring some color and pop back to the experience!”
Several moments fans will see, hear and feel the fireworks pop are during the National Anthem, during player intros and of course, during plays resulting in a touchdown.
“There is no playbook for this. You know? You don’t go to the grocery store and buy this stuff – right,” Diehl said. “We joke, kinda, we hope the welding crew had a good day!”
Diehl and his crew do their work attaching fireworks and charging them to locations above the stadium while operating untethered to it. The catwalks high above the stadium sometimes sway and buckle underfoot… all while dealing with explosives.
“It’s gotta be immersive,” Bailey said. “So, when fans come to the stadium, they have to feel all of their senses kind of come alive when we score!”
While it’s true, not everyone can stomach going up as high as Diehl and his crew do, thankfully for the Colts… and their fans… Diehl, can.
“I’ve been doing this for a decade,” Diehl said. “A decade plus and the butterflies are still there. Right? But they help you stay focused and I love what I do.”