“We are back, we are back, we are back," echoed through the newly renamed Bankers Life Fieldhouse as the specially selected members of Area 55 greeted the fans in attendance at the Indiana Pacers home opener.
Area 55, Roy Hibbert's unique fan group, filled section 101 before the buzzer sounded with loud cheers and proud chants. The fans made sure to not let up the entire 48 minutes of play.
But it didn't start there. Many of the 55 members meet just south of Pennsylvania Avenue in downtown Indianapolis for a fun-filled tailgate experience before the game begun.
The fan section is now in its second year, and for those who have returned they believe Area 55 drives the momentum of the entire fieldhouse.
"This is the best way,” Super Fan Michael Hopson said. “You get to stand up. You get to have fun. You get to cheer loud. “
The Pacers defeated the Pistons 91-79 but the victory did not come without the ecstatic atmosphere created by the special area devoted to Hip Hip Ho-Roy. In a shortened season the fan section is expected to give it all they got at every game, and some even show their dedication in a more permanent manner.
Currently there are five members with Area 55 tattoos, and for Rob Greenway it is just another way to show how dedicated he is to the team, and more importantly Roy.
Starting the season with a victory is the picture perfect way for these fans to get and stay excited for the season. And as Hibbert enters the court before tip-off and turns and points to his hand selected fans, they all remember how important they are to the Pacers success.