Constructed in conjunction with the Indiana Convention Center expansion, the Hoosier Dome was an important component of the revitalization of downtown Indianapolis. By combining the convention center and stadium projects, city leaders were able to target two markets simultaneously: sports and tourism.

Exterior view of a large stadium with the dome inflated. There is a landscaped area in front with trees, paved walkways and a large, central fountain.
The RCA Dome (Hoosier Dome), Capitol Commons, and the Indiana Convention Center, 1993 Credit: Indiana Historical Society View Source

Funding for this joint venture came from a combination of private grants ($25 million from lilly endowment, Inc. and $5 million from Krannert Charitable Trust) as well as a $47 million municipal bond, which was repaid through a controversial 1 percent food and beverage tax in Marion County. The Capital Improvement Board owned and oversaw the management of both properties.

Groundbreaking for the Hoosier Dome occurred in May 1982. The air-supported dome roof was inflated the following year in August 1983. It weighed 514,505 pounds, had a height of 193 feet, and was made of Teflon-coated fiberglass on the outside and canvas on the inside. Other important features of the building included an AstroTurf field and seating for 61,000.

In May 1984, the stadium opened, two months after the Baltimore Colts relocated to Indianapolis. The NFL team’s owner, Robert Irsay, cited the construction of the dome as one of the reasons for the team’s move to the city.

The first game for the Indianapolis Colts inside the Hoosier Dome occurred on August 11, 1984. During this preseason contest, a sellout crowd watched the team defeat the New York Giants 26-20.

Inside the domed stadium, a capacity crowd watches a football game.
Colts vs. Patriots Football Game, Hoosier Dome, Nov. 18, 1994 Credit: Indiana Historical Society View Source

In addition to Colts’ games, the Hoosier Dome played host to numerous events, including the annual Circle City Classic. Several other sports competitions were held at the stadium for major organizations, including the International Olympic Committee (IOC) & Pan American Sports Organization (PASO) (see Tenth Pan American Games), National Basketball Association (NBA), National Collegiate Athletic Association (Ncaa), and the Indiana High School Athletic Association (Ihsaa). The dome also served as a venue for local commencement exercises, national conventions, and concerts by famous musicians.

In 1994, the naming rights to the Hoosier Dome were purchased by RCA Corporation. The stadium was then referred to as the RCA Dome until its closure in August 2008 upon the opening of LUCAS OIL STADIUM, the new home of the Indianapolis Colts. The following month, the RCA Dome’s roof was deflated. The rest of the building was imploded three months later, on December 20, 2008. The empty space from the stadium was used for another Indiana Convention Center expansion, which was completed in 2011. 

Revised March 2021

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