Tailgating and fan experience will change for the Colts’ home opener

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INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts are back at Lucas Oil Stadium this Sunday to take on the Minnesota Vikings.

But things will look a little different this year with limited ticket sales and tailgating opportunities because of COVID-19.

The Colts recently made the decision to only have 2,500 fans for the home opener, and also canceled tailgating in their lots and Touchdown Town. They say it was a tough decision.

 “Unfortunately due to COVID and the fluid nature of this pandemic, for the foreseeable future, there’s not going to be any tailgating in the stadium lots,” explained Steve Campbell, VP of communications with the Colts. “We’ll keep meeting with the health department and with health officials as the season moves along and see if there are things that we can add to the experience. But it’s better to be safe than sorry and that’s we’re doing right now.”

Security will enforce the no tailgating rule at Colts-owned lots – that includes the South Lot, the Northwest Lot and Lot A.

At other parking lots, it’s up to the owners.

Some lots are following the team’s lead on this. N.K. Hurst will have their lot open for parking but will not allow tailgating.

“We’re going to space them in, it’s a family pod, one or two cars. But there will be space for 200 cars,” said Rick Hurst, president of N.K. Hurst. “It’s just a different time so that’s what we’re doing and hopefully when all this is over we’ll go back to what we did in 2019.”

When asked about enforcement in the lot, Hurst said Colts fans are very courteous and he doesn’t expect any issues.

“We’re not going to have the COVID police standing out there with people telling you you can’t tailgate,” he said. “People are very respectful and the Colts fans, they all understand. I mean, the Colts are allowing 2,500 fans to come to their games and it’s already hard enough. We expect everybody to abide by those rules.”

Meanwhile, Gate Ten Events and Parking will allow tailgating in their lots.

In a statement, the company says they will space groups apart and encouraging fans to wear masks.

“We’ve reviewed the CDC Guidelines and feel that spacing groups apart will be the most prudent thing to do. We encourage people to wear masks except when eating or drinking. We want people to have a good time but do it as safely as possible. We will reevaluate after the first game and see how people respond to the guidelines. We need to make sure people are listening and demonstrating some common sense.”

The company usually sees nearly 3,000 cars in its lots but anticipates closer to 300 for the Vikings game.

“Our entire operation is dependent on people attending conventions, sporting events, concerts, etc. The cancellation of all the conventions and limiting of fans at Colts games is going to have a major impact on us this year and next dropping our annual sales by 90%.”

The pandemic has hit the business hard and they are excited to welcome back fans safely, even if it looks a little different.

Colts fans are encouraged to find a safe way to support their team. Colts officials remind fans, if they plan on coming downtown for the home opener, to check with wherever their parking to see what their rules are on tailgating.

“With this pandemic there are a lot of disappointing factors with our season but everyone across the planet and across the county is going through something, so we’re not going to complain,” explained Campbell. “We’re just going to put one foot in front of the other and it’s our job to put on football games and entertain folks. So, that’s what we’re going to focus all of our efforts on and make sure that we can have a safe season and an enjoyable season.”

Colts take on the Vikings on Sunday. Kickoff is at 1 p.m.

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