Indianapolis shines in Colts spotlight
What a night for Colts fans. Some say Sunday night's game against the Broncos felt like the Super Bowl, and that certainly doesn't hurt when the city's going for the 2018 game.
Season ticket holder Mike Davis and his son were still replaying highlights Monday morning as they headed to the Colts Pro Shop for a few souvenirs before heading home to Nashville, Tenn.
Mike Davis said he couldn't believe the energy inside Lucas Oil Stadium.
"We didn't sit down the whole game. We stood. We were on the edge of our seats. Even though we were up a lot at half we knew the game would be a one-possession game," he said.
It wasn't just a close game. It was an emotional one for Peyton Manning and his fans as he returned to Lucas Oil Stadium as a Denver Bronco.
After Manning ran on the field, he received a standing ovation and rousing welcome as a video tribute played on the large video screen. Manning took off his helmet and waved to fans.
Huilang Wheeling, in from Las Vegas for the game with her husband, said, "It was just a tearful event. I was crying my eyes out."
Despite wearing their #18 jerseys, there was no question who the couple would cheer for.
"The Colts for sure," said Guillermo. "We wanted them to get a win in and make the transition a little easier. Otherwise you'll never hear the end of what could have been with Peyton here."
Not only did the Colts shine in their 39-33 win over the Broncos, but the city shined as well, and in front of an NBC primetime audience that at one point, reached more than 27-million viewers.
Leonard Hoops heads Visit Indy.
"We had the roof open and the window open. It was just a great night in the city," he said.
Brandon Aston, a lifelong fan from Virginia Beach, VA, came to the game with his father. It was Brandon's first trip to Indianapolis.
"It felt like it was the Super Bowl. It was just great," he said. "Everyone was so welcoming."
That's just what Hoops likes to hear, especially as Indy competes to host another Super Bowl.
Indianapolis, Minneapolis and New Orleans were the finalists invited by the NFL to bid on the 2018 game.
"It's hard to say exactly what a game like last night's meant to us, but you know intuitively it helped the brand. It came off well, we looked good. I saw people tweeting what a warm reception Peyton got from the people of Indianapolis, it reflects our Hoosier hospitality," he said,
Hoops noted the exposure is also a plus when trying to retain and lure new meetings and conventions to the city.
Martin Gray, general manager of Tavern on South, couldn't agree more.
"It's a three-hour commercial about what's good about Indianapolis," Gray said.
His restaurant opened just before the 2012 Super Bowl. Like many others involved in downtown's hospitality industry, Gray wants the 2018 game.
"We know how to put on a good show for everyone and I think we showed a national audience that Indianapolis is the place to be for big events," he said.
And as fans saw Sunday night, it's the place for great football, too.