For the first time in close to 10 years, I attended an Indianapolis Colts game Sunday. And while I had a fairly good time, I don’t know if I’ll be back anytime soon. Anyone who knows me knows I love sports, and by “sports” I mean basketball. The NFL is a diversion until the NBA season starts. Still, when I heard that Sunday’s game would be blacked out, I decided to invest my hard-earned money on a ticket. A trip downtown and $55 later, I was the proud owner of an upper-deck seat. I was ready for some bone-crunching NFL action. After arriving downtown on Sunday, I made my way through a cheerful throng of people, tramped up impossibly high stairs and entered the Dome. And then it hit me. The last time I was at the Dome was a Colts game sometime in the early 1990s. Since then, my pro sports experiences have all been at Market Square Arena, the Coliseum and the Fieldhouse. Nothing prepared me for just how run-down the RCA Dome has become. It was built in 1983 but it looks like it was built in 1933. It’s dark and unfriendly and seems designed to squeeze as many bucks out of you as possible before you leave. Its unfriendliness comes not from the Dome employees, who seemed pleasant enough, or the Colts fans themselves, who were also nice. It just feels more like a detention camp than a sports stadium. Maybe I’m spoiled from spending so much time in a world-class arena like the Fieldhouse, where plenty of attention was paid to aesthetics. There, you climb a grand staircase to enter onto on a wide, brightly lit concourse. At the Dome, where they don’t believe in ramps, you climb concrete steps to enter a dark, gray concourse. It has the ambience of a Bronx subway station except that subways have better lighting. I’m not expecting a 20-year-old building to be as modern as a 4-year-old structure. But I spend plenty of time at the Coliseum, which is 60 years old and feels infinitely more inviting than the Dome. The Coliseum feels comforting, like an old friend. The Dome is a monument to concrete and fluorescent lighting. Before the game, sportswriters and TV people were shilling for the team in an unprecedented fashion. If you don’t buy a ticket to Sunday’s game, you’re sending a message that you don’t want the Colts to stay. Of course, it’s easy for people who get in free to an event to berate others for not spending hundreds of dollars to go. But I think much of the Colts’ problems with attendance stem from the fact that they play in a Soviet-built arena. Still, Hoosier Hospitality can overshadow even the terrible ambience of the Dome. The Colts fans are patient, caring people who’ve endured much in the last 20 years. They’ve suffered through 3-13 seasons and the scourge known as Jeff George. They can overcome anything. The Colts make it a difficult experience. From where I was sitting, the sound system sounded like a Big Lots-brand stereo system. It kept cutting in and out but never varying its high distortion level. The television screens at the east and west ends showed plenty of commercials, making the game very much like the home viewing experience, but were surprisingly lax with actual game information. Did Edgerrin James have a good day rushing? What were Steve McNair’s passing stats? How many first downs did the Colts make? You have to wait for the morning paper to find out, because you get none of that information at the game. Despite all that, the game was exciting and fun. Marvin Harrison’s touchdown catch was as good a play as you’ll ever see. Peyton Manning looked sharp, as did James. The special-teams unit was impressive. But there’s something just wrong with domed stadiums. Sure, it keeps the bad weather out, but it also keeps out the good weather. When you exit the stadium, it feels like you just walked out of an afternoon movie. Domed stadiums are a throwback to another era, a consumer-unfriendly era that also produced Tang and Bac-0s. They’re not real and neither is the Dome. I’m sure it’s nicer in the luxury suites, and I’m also sure that there are people out there who love the Dome as much as I loved Market Square Arena. But I haven’t met any of those people. If we’re going to keep the Colts, we just need to invest in a real stadium, one with natural lighting and grass on the field. If the best we can offer is a barn with a plastic roof, then the team should go ahead and move to L.A. I’ll help them pack.