Around the House with Dean Heaviland

Pacers Sports & Entertainment Director of Game Operations Dean Heaviland sits down with host Eddie White in the latest edition of Around the House. Heaviland discusses how he first got involved with the Pacers and what it takes to to put on a complete show at a Pacers game.


Eddie White: We’re back! Another version of Around the House, the award winning, highly acclaimed show that we have here at We go behind the house and we go around the house, look in the garage, all that stuff, and find things, and find people. Today, we find a guy that-

Dean Heaviland: You had to dig deep to find me.

Eddie: No, no, no. I don’t know if I respect somebody as much as you. You do such a great job. You’re always behind the scenes and you have a lot going on. Can I tell them who the heck you are?

Dean: Sure, go ahead.

Eddie: Dean Heaviland is his name. He’s the director of game operations and promotions. Is that correct, sir?

Dean: Yes, sir.

Eddie: Ok, now, before we get into this. You’ve been here a long time. A long time, being fourteen years. But, you also did this as an intern or whatever. Game operations; is this from the beginning to the end? I mean, what the heck is game operations?

Dean: Game operations, basically, that’s right. From the time you walk into the door, the videos you see, the music you hear, the Pacemates, the mascots. You walk into the game, you see the big screen, and we program all of the videos on the big screen. Script the game, basically, the game is happening, but in between the game, the time outs, the half time, the national anthem, all those things come through us.

Eddie: You made that sound simple. I know it’s not, and there’s a lot more to that, I want to get into that, but I want to go back. You were an intern here, before you started doing this. Did you intern in this department?

Dean: Interned here, went to Ball State. Originally, started out at Ball State, I was going to be a teacher. Then, decided to move over and get into sports administration. My first week in class, they came in and said they need someone to interview for a Pacers job. I grew up here in Indianapolis, was a big Pacers fan. Its like, that’s what I want to do. I had no idea what it was. Came down here and interviewed with two guys. They’re a lot like you. They joked around the whole time. Gave me a hard time and next thing I know, it got offered and I started an internship in the game operations department. I had no idea what I was doing. I had no idea that all these things were planned when I started, but I enjoyed it. I did it for two seasons. I stayed on during the summer, did it in between, and then did it again. I got lucky after college and got hired on.

Eddie: You’re a speedway native, so you’ve got that free spirit, fast moving personality. What’s been the biggest change, I think, from going back to when you were an intern, and just getting started in the game operations, and then the promotions and stuff, to today?

Dean: Back then, at Market Square, it was a lot different. We didn’t have video boards. You had the boards in the corner, but you couldn’t see them. So just coming here was a huge asset to have new videos that you could use. You could do a lot of different things that we couldn’t do before, so that helped a lot. Then, the game itself has changed a lot with what kind of video things we do. Now, we try and do a lot of focus on the players, show different things, and just be a lot more interactive all over the place.

Eddie: You do this for the fever too, so you do it for both? You talked earlier about the videos, and the music, and all of the other stuff. Do you pick the music? You got a bunch of people that pick it with you? How do you determine what, do the players get involved? Do the coaches tell you “Hey, I want to hear a little Conway Twitty”? I mean, what happens out there?

Dean: Well, we like to play KC and the Sunshine Band for you. I know that’s one of your favorites. But its actually, there’s a large, our departments made out of six people, full time in our department. So, we all go onto it and figure out what we want. But, we also have a main music operator, who’s a DJ. He’s been on the radio a lot, so he kind of keeps us up to date with what’s big now, how to keep a little current. But still go onto some of the things that everybody likes. One of the tough parts is, you come to the game, and your going to have kids from the littlest of ages to the oldest basketball fans. So, it’s keeping everybody happy, playing a little bit of everything, but not leaning too far one way.

Eddie: Now, in addition to the stuff they see on the board, the music they listen to, you’re also involved in the stuff that we see. We walk around the quarters, and the hallways, the face painting, all that stuff. You really are touching people, like you said, from when they walk in to when they’re walking out the door.

Dean: Right, what we try and do is give them an experience from once they come in that they are enjoying themselves. We can’t necessarily control what’s going to happen in the outcome of the game, but we want to give them a good time. Karen Adkison is in our department, she’s been here forever, longer than I’ve been here. She controls all of the different things that happen on the concourses, from getting the Pacemates do the autograph sessions, the mascots do autograph sessions. You mentioned face painters. Make your own poster, there’s different things to keep fans engaged. Once they walk in, then we get them in the bowl, and try to give them a good show there.

Eddie: I have to ask you this because we try and make the show entertaining and enlightening, hopefully people learn something. Is there an embarrassing moment, is there something that didn’t happen, like a balloon that didn’t go, or ice cream that melted, or something? I’m not asking about your trips with Benner, David Benner, our esteemed media relations guy who we all love, but anything that might of happened that “Boy, I’ll never forget that night”?

Dean: We’ve had a lot of things that have gone wrong. You’re putting on a live show, and the NBA is really strict on our timing. We have to have things down to the second. Everything has to happen it’s because of broadcasting reasons, so we do everything down to the timing, so everything doesn’t run smoothly or perfectly all the time. But, as a general fan, might not notice when they’re there. Some of the things that have gone wrong: Way back in the Eastern Conference Playoffs, this is back in Market Square, game was over. Boom! Bang! Fireworks were going off. They put four tenths of a second back on the clock with streamers coming down and everything. Needless to say, that hasn’t happened again. We have kind of fixed that. Then, there’s always the on-courts, that you say “This would be a great on-court.” We get PR guys that come down and they think that they’ve got the best idea for something. They’ll come down and well try it, but it doesn’t necessarily go off well. But, it’s fun.

Eddie: My ideas always work. I haven’t missed an idea yet.

Dean: Your one for one.

Eddie: Before I let you go, you’ve been here a long time, and your one of those guys, and I’m so blessed that I’ve met so many people in the building that, I know it’s a catch phrase, but they really bleed Pacers colors. Your one of those guys, and I love that. Is there one moment that you look back and say “That’s my most proudest moment” or “There’s one moment that ill never ever forget as long as I live, since you’ve been here”?

Dean: Probably two of them. One would be opening the building. When we opened Conseco Fieldhouse, getting to put on the half-time show where we recognized fifty greatest basketball players. It was awesome; it was a lot of fun. The NBA came in and did a lot of it also. But, we got to work with them and Bob Costas came in and MC’d it. At center court we had Larry Bird, Oscar Robertson, and John Wooden, which was great. Get to be with all those guys and hang with them and do that. Later on that year, going to the Finals. Having the Finals run where you finally get up to that point and you actually get to go to the Finals, we got to go out to L.A. for a game, and we were close to winning it. It was a lot of fun, both of those things were.

Eddie: I’ve always said my old job; the experience of coming to games here is out of this world. My kid, whatever age he was along the way. We love coming here. I know your one of the guys that makes it happen. So on behalf of all the Pacer’s fans, thank you for what you’re doing and keep it up. I can’t wait for the next thing to fall out of the ceiling, a donut or something, and give us a treat. Thank you sir.