|Indianapolis gets taste of being 2-team town|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 02 September 2008 11:52|
This week, however, the city is enjoying a rare taste of what life is like when playing host to two teams in the same major, pro sport - the hometown Colts and, temporarily, the displaced New Orleans Saints.
``It's like being in New Jersey, you know I'm a Jersey guy,'' Colts linebacker Gary Brackett said. The New York Giants and Jets both play at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford.
Make no mistake, one NFL team is plenty for Indianapolis, a town once dubbed America's amateur sports capitol.
Since the arrival of New Orleans native Peyton Manning in 1998, the Colts have overtaken the NBA's Pacers as the favorite team in this basketball state and the city just spent $720 million on its latest crown jewel, Lucas Oil Stadium.
This week, the Colts just wanted to lend a helping hand to the Saints, who had to leave New Orleans ahead of Hurricane Gustav. They'll go back for their season-opener Sunday against Tampa Bay.
Coach Tony Dungy offered to provide the Saints with equipment or any other necessary materials to conduct practices, and when the Saints went looking for a place to go, Colts owner Jim Irsay offered up the Colts new stadium. City and state officials pitched in to make it happen.
``The thing is, in our city, people get things done,'' Irsay said. ``We worked with the mayor's office to help get them into a hotel and the stadium people so they could practice there. So it's a nice story, knowing that Indianapolis is helping New Orleans get prepared for Sunday. Maybe Indianapolis will be rooting for the Saints to win Sunday, too.''
Clearly, the Saints would prefer to be back home.
``We want to be one of the first ones back to New Orleans, we want to play our game in New Orleans, we want to raise the spirits of our community,'' Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said.
For the next several days, though, they'll be among understanding friends in a city that has grown much more professional over the past quarter century.
Until the Colts moved from Baltimore in 1984, the Pacers and the Indianapolis 500 were the only games in town. Not any more.
The Colts helped recast Indy's image, from an amateur's dreamworld into a major-league city. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has added a NASCAR race, formerly hosted Formula One and in two weeks will hold its first motorcyle race.
In this decade alone, the city has hosted the world championships in basketball and swimming; national championships in men's and women's basketball, track and field and gymnastics; the NBA Finals and the AFC Championship.
Hosting a second NFL team is a special treat.
For one week, the city joins New York-New Jersey and San Francisco-Oakland as the metropolitan areas with two NFL teams practicing in such close proximity.
The Saints have experienced goodwill gestures from other cities before.
When Katrina hit in 2005, New Orleans moved its practices to San Antonio and wound up splitting home games between San Antonio and Baton Rouge, La. They even played a ``home'' game against the Giants in New Jersey that year.
The next season, Sean Payton arrived as coach and came within one win of taking the Saints to their first Super Bowl. Strangely enough, they would have faced the Colts.