I have never been to a Colts game at Lucas Oil Stadium (I attended last year's Titan's game in Tennessee). This is mainly due to the fact that I live in Chicago, home of the Bears, (Yes, Peyton, I suffer from Displaced Fan Syndrome). The second reason is I'm getting married, and justifying a ticket would put a...strain...on our budding (hopefully long lasting) relationship. This is only important because in part 1 of my search to find out what "Build The Monster," truly means I am going to be taking a look at people like me, the fans.
When most people think of building the monster I feel like their thoughts drift directly to the roster. That's a pretty understandable. The roster is something that is something that is actually "built," with players being added, subtracted, and moved around on the depth chart. I believe, however, that building the monster starts with the fans. When I was down in Tennessee, for a Thursday Night Game, I was surprised by how many Colts fans there were. Not only that I was astounded by the noise the fans brought to the away venue. It was a welcome sight (and sound) in a "hostile" stadium. Now LP Field isn't THAT far away and I can't speak to our road attendance, but in a '08 study done by Emory University ranked the Colts as the 6th most supportive fans in the NFL . Now a lot has changed since 2008, but one thing that hasn't changed is the loyalty of the fan base. One thing that I have noticed about my fellow Colts fans is the level of ownership they take in "their," team. This is why they can rank 6th in the NFL after having only been in the city for 23 years. It's also why we can be extremely critical of our team when an action is taken that is disagreeable. This criticism, which some have misinterpreted as being "fair weather," is in my opinion a good thing. I'd take that over apathy any day! Lucas Oil Stadium has won, once again, the Best Sports Venue Award given annually by Stadium Journey. This is because, in part, the fans. Paul Sweeny, Co-Founder of Stadium Journey, stated,
"The contrast in the level of noise between when the team is on offense or defense is astounding. This is partially a carryover of the Peyton Manning era when he would make calls from the line of scrimmage, so the crowd has been trained over the years to be quiet when watching the offense. The only time you will hear the crowd is after a big play, when the announcer calls, 'That's an Indianapolis Colts...' and the crowd responds exuberantly, 'FIRST DOWN!' On defense the crowd can be menacing, but they are far from hostile. On the contrary, Colts fans are very hospitable to visiting fans and you won't see anything more than good natured ribbing toward opposing fans. You can feel comfortable wearing your team's jersey if you are following them on the road."
Sorry for the block quote, but that is some good stuff! That quote above shows the signs of an intelligent fan base! It is one thing to be crazy loud when the opposing team is on defense, but it is an entirely different thing for a stadium full of fans to be quite. Also, having a fan base that knows where "the line," is when it comes to other teams' fans is a great thing. Not every fan base gets it.
The Colts as an organization have done a great job of fostering this fan base of "menacing" yet "hospitable" followers. On the website in t he days leading up to games there is always an article and/or video of a player, coach, or exec proclaiming the importance of the fans bringing the noise. That can't be by accident. The Colts organization seems to be, at least from the outside, a very intentional group of people. They also do an amazing job of catering to the fans almost rabid craving for team information. I think they understand that the Colts, being a smaller market team, will never get their fair share of the national sports talk time. I think they understand that to keep people plugged in and interested in anything you have to keep them engaged in whatever it is you are selling. Things like the Mailbag and are amazing ways to interact with the fans and "educate the monster," as it were. I feel like we are a fortunate group to have a team like that.
When one thinks about building the monster. I think the most important things to remember is 1.) It is the monster. Singular. BUT 2.) It is built meaning made of many separate parts. What a perfect analogy for a fan base. A singular entity striving for a singular goal, that is made of many different parts. If you have any questions or comments or wanna talk or debate about anything I said leave a comment! Go Colts!