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Lucas, Colts connect in Indy

Lucas, Colts connect in Indy
Lucas, Colts connect in Indy
Forrest Lucas, owner of Lucas Oil, addresses the crowd last Wednesday as he talks about the vision of the new 'Lucas Oil Stadium' that will be home to the Indianapolis Colts starting in 2008. (Photo by Matt Detrich, The Indianapolis Star)

Lucas Oil Stadium will be home to the Indianapolis Colts when the football season begins in 2008, thanks to a $121.5 million naming-rights deal for the new stadium reached last week.
‘I want people to realize we are a strong, aggressive company with the best oil products in the world, and we’re going to be a big player,’ said Forrest Lucas during a Monday morning interview in Corydon. ‘We want to be a big part of Indiana, especially Southern Indiana.
‘I would think we will give Harrison County some bragging rights,’ Lucas said.
Meanwhile, Lucas Oil is also giving Harrison County something else to talk about. And take to the bank.
‘We’re already in the process of expansion,’ said son Dwayne Lucas during an interview at the Corydon plant, where he stays busy with sales and marketing.
He said the company expects to begin construction soon on about an 80,000-square-foot expansion of the plant in Harrison County Industrial Park. Once complete, that will mean another 50 or so jobs, Dwayne Lucas said.
The company currently employs some 65 workers, with production and distribution taking up about 100,000 square feet in the rear of the building. The plant is situated on 19 acres. Entry is at the north end of Harrison Way, which runs between the state and county highway departments, off Quarry Road. A rail spur is essential to its business, so the company is in the process of purchasing the LNA&C Railroad (Louisville, New Albany & Corydon Railroad), Forrest Lucas said.
‘We have to have the railroad,’ he said, adding: ‘But we can’t expect those gentlemen to keep running it at a loss.’
He expects to close that purchase this week.
Construction on the plant addition is expected to begin as soon as utility poles now standing in the way have been relocated, and that work is underway, Lucas said.
Lucas Oil Stadium is under construction about a block south of the RCA Dome. Completion and opening is expected at the start of the 2008 football season. The facility will be a three-deck, seven-level, multi-use building with a retractable roof that will seat 63,000 for football and 70,000 or more for NCAA basketball, concerts and other special events.
The pact between Lucas and the Colts won’t be final until the Capital Improvement Board approves the naming rights agreement, but that is expected at the board’s March 13 meeting.
For the payment of $121.5 million over 20 years to the Colts, the Lucas name will be on each side of the $500 million stadium and on the roof, which can be easily seen by motorists on nearby Interstate 70, just south of downtown Indianapolis. The main entrance on the north will be the official Lucas Oil entryway. Outside, a Lucas symbol will welcome visitors, and inside, Lucas Oil will host displays and exhibits.
There will undoubtedly be a few other perks. The company will likely get a hospitality suite and access to players and cheerleaders to help market their products.
The Lucas Oil Stadium logo will be on every cupholder at every seat, Lucas said, and on employee uniforms and on a giant video screen inside the building.
‘Lucas Oil Stadium will create a sense of pride throughout Indiana as well as beyond the state boundaries,’ said Darrell Voelker, director of the Harrison County Economic Development Corp., who along with several others made the trek to Indianapolis last week for the big announcement.
He added that the Lucas success story shows the benefits of a partnership between business and government.
‘When Lucas Oil initially located in Harrison County (in 2001), they formed a partnership with the state of Indiana and Harrison County. The state and local government extended infrastructure to their site, and in return, Lucas Oil invested millions of dollars and created dozens of jobs.’
He said the Economic Development Corp. stands ready to assist Lucas Oil Products with its latest expansion plans.
Council chair Gary Davis also traveled to Indianapolis for the ceremony. ‘I thought it was pretty impressive,’ he said. ‘I think it got us some free publicity as the home of their largest production facility.’
Lucas Oil Products was founded in 1989 by Forrest and his wife, Charlotte, who is ever-present in the business. Once the office manager, she now spends a lot of time intercepting and handling tasks to make his life easier, Forrest said, with an easy, congenial smile.
The company is headquartered in Corona, Calif., where products are exported to foreign markets.