Indianapolis - It was a big day for Lucas Oil Stadium, which held its grand opening Thursday night.
The $250 per person ticket got fans a Stephen Stills and Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra performance, and the stadium roof was opened for guests to see the city skyline. Joe Theisman was master of ceremonies.
About 3,000 people were expected to attend Thursday night's events.
Fans who missed out on free tours of the new Lucas Oil Stadium will get another chance, but they'll have to pay.
Public tours of the new 63,000 seat home of the Indianapolis Colts will be available on Tuesday and Wednesdays beginning Oct. 1. Tickets will cost up to $7 and will be available on the day of the tour at the Colts Pro Shop. About 80,000 tickets were given away for free tours starting Saturday.
The first NFL game at the new stadium will be the Colts' preseason game against the Buffalo Bills on Aug. 24th.
The stadium took three years to build, but it took many years of negotiation and difficult deals before the first brick was laid.
The announcement came just before kick-off in late 2004 - a deal to keep the Colts here for 30 years. At the heart of it were plans for a 63,000 seat, state-of-the-art, retractable roof stadium. The agreement ended two years of talks and rumors of the team moving to Los Angeles.
Proponents sealed the deal by tying the new stadium to a convention center expansion. They also talked of hosting more Final Fours and even the Super Bowl. But Democratic Mayor Bart Peterson tussled with Republican lawmakers over how to pay for it.
Peterson proposed expanded gambling. Lawmakers nixed that, ultimately agreeing to a hike in hospitality taxes, including a regional food and beverage tax. Peterson also had to turn over control of the project to the state.
The state broke ground in September 2005 with Peyton Manning the surprise attraction. Three months later, the stadium was starting to take shape but it still didn't have a name until March 2006. That's when the Colts announced a $121 million deal to name the stadium Lucas Oil.
As the stadium went up, so did the costs for steel, insurance and removing contaminated soil. The initial price tag of $625 million increased to $720 million and doesn't include the Convention Center connector going in or any of the recent storm damage not covered by insurance.
Under a tight deadline to open by August 15th, the RCA Dome remains up and game-ready, just in case.
The North atrium area of the stadium is the Lucas Oil Plaza. It highlights the Lucas Oil racing history and diversity. Fans can see cars and other racing props on display. Some Lucas Oil drivers are expected to make appearances at the plaza during special events. Forrest Lucas says the plaza and the stadium are prime spots to advertise his company and committment to Indiana.
You can't miss the giant window wall that takes up the stadium's north side. It's 244 feet long and 88 feet high - the widest operable glass doors in the world. When the window is open - or closed - fans can see a spectacular view of the city's downtown. It takes about three minutes for the six glass panels move along rails to open and reveal the skyline.
The suite life
The stadium suites may be the best seats in the house. They are most certainly the most expensive.
There are five kinds of suites, some so private that they seat only eight, to one big enough for 200 cheering fans.
The quarterback suite will set you back $4,000 per season ticket. Then there are the top dollar super suites at midfield: $235,000 per season.
The Colts say they want the suites to convey contemporary luxury. You'll also see lots of blue, even a horseshoe bar in the designs plus flat screen TVs.
The Irsay family suit is certainly on a larger scale. While you look at the owner's suite, keep in mind that there were 104 suites at the RCA Dome compared to 140 here. Food and drink are included.
All of the suites are spoken for. They are leased through the 2013 season.
The new stadium has 1,400 toilet fixtures. And yes, there are more for women than men. Hopefully there won't be too long of a line. There are 720 toilets for women, 652 for men and 28 family bathrooms.
More stadium facts