- Darren Rovell, ESPN.com Sports Business reporter
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Peyton Manning's trip to Indianapolis is arguably the biggest return for an athlete to his former turf.
More than 10,000 tickets to this game against the Denver Broncos have been sold on StubHub, more than half the number of tickets sold in the past month alone. And fans have paid a median price of $250 for each of those tickets, a number that ticket aggregator TiqIQ is calling the most expensive seat to a Colts home game since 2010.
Despite the apparent shots taken by Colts owner Jim Irsay on his own team's number of Super Bowl titles (one), Manning's return is nonetheless resonating deeply because of how much he is still beloved.
Part of that comes from the fact that, unlike so many players, Manning didn't leave the team that drafted him. The Colts left him when they chose to let him go instead of giving him a $28 million option bonus last year.
That's why there are Manning Broncos jerseys being sold in Indianapolis. That's why this past week, more Peyton gear was sold from addresses in Indianapolis than Luck merchandise, according to Fanatics.com, the largest online retailer of officially licensed sporting goods.
But part of the value of Manning's return also lies in the fact that his replacement is as good as he is. Andrew Luck led the Colts to the playoffs last season as a rookie, and although his numbers pale in comparison to Manning's 22-touchdown, two-interception season, Luck still has the Colts at 4-2.
For what it's worth, sales of Luck's jerseys are up more than 250 percent compared to the first six weeks of last season on Fanatics.com. Manning jerseys are up 170 percent.
Manning's return to Indianapolis has resulted in the city selling out every hotel room, a roughly 6,500-room difference from when the Colts played the Browns at home in Week 7 of the 2012 season.
To commemorate the matchup, the Colts are selling a shirt, usually reserved for Super Bowl matchups, that features both Manning and Luck with the words, "If you build it, Luck will come."
If "it" is Lucas Oil Stadium, it was Manning, not Luck, who built it, and that's one reason why Sunday night's matchup has turned into a business in itself --- the appreciation of the man who meant so much to the franchise coming home.
Tickets, merchandise skyrocketing with return of star QB to Indianapolis