Neighbors have close view of Lucas Oil Stadium

INDIANAPOLIS – Bryan Darden has lived in the same house for 50 years. This week, Super Bowl XLVI turned up across the street.

“I’ve got the Super Bowl in my backyard,” said Darden, looking out over the solitary chain-link fence that separates him from Lucas Oil Stadium. “People always ask me: ‘Wow, how did you get so close?’ I just live here.”

A view of Lucas Oil Stadium from Senate Street.
(Yahoo! Sports)

Senate Street, where Darden and a handful of locals live in a small development sandwiched between the stadium and Highway 70, has been largely forgotten as Indianapolis has cleaned itself up, both with long-term regeneration projects and a few extra coats of paint for America’s Big Game.

The swanky lofts and modern wine bars are reserved for another part of downtown, albeit one less than a mile away. Yet aside from those lucky enough to have a ticket for Sunday’s showpiece between the New York Giants and New England Patriots, no one is going to be closer than the residents of this area, who merely have to step outside their front doors and look up to see the stadium tower before them.

“I can stand on my step and there it is – the Super Bowl,” Darden said. “What can I say? I am excited about it. It is a good thing for Indiana. This used to be a thriving neighborhood, but now as you walk through, there are a lot of empty lots.

“I will be a prisoner on game day because if I want to move my car, they want me to pay to park somewhere. I have to go get a pass just to park here outside my house. And I can’t make no money charging people to park because I don’t have a space to rent to people.”

Lucas Oil Stadium is in many ways the symbol of the resurgence of downtown Indy. Along with the frost-fighting Skywalk, The House That Peyton Built is one of the heartbeats of an underdog city with a vibrant, working-class vibe.

Down on Senate, Darden and his neighbor Roderick White have seen a city within a city spring up over the past few weeks.

“They started putting up all those tents, and it has just got busier every day,” said White, 52 years old and born and raised in Indianapolis. “It makes it difficult to get out and around and to go where you need to. But that’s what you get when you live near the stadium. You know everyone is going to be watching the game, and I will probably just be here watching on my TV. They don’t give us tickets.”

Lucas Oil Stadium opened in 2008, replacing the out-of-date RCA Dome as the home of the Colts. This year’s Super Bowl hosting rights were a fitting reward for the city’s investment, and justification for the overall investment that exceeded $720 million.

“I remember watching them put that thing up and wondering if it was going to work,” Darden said. “Well, I guess it worked.”

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Updated Tuesday, Jan 31, 2012