Pacers fans are able to return to Bankers Life Fieldhouse this weekend, as the organization has received clearance from the Marion County Health Department to sell a limited number of tickets to Pacers home games to the general public beginning on Jan. 24.
Those who do attend Pacers games will notice a new and improved Fieldhouse, as Phase 1 of the three-year Fieldhouse of the Future renovations were recently completed.
The Phase 1 renovations focused exclusively on the interior of the building with a "bottom-up" approach. Those renovations included installing new seats and a new retractable seating system in the main bowl, updating existing suites and premium areas while also creating two new exclusive clubs, and installing a state-of-the-art, center hung scoreboard.
PHOTO GALLERY: Phase 1 Renovations »
"I was one of the guys that was part of building it in 1999, and I didn't think it could get better," Pacers Sports & Entertainment President and COO Rick Fuson said. "Well, it has gotten better. It really is a new building."
Construction began last February and though the COVID-19 pandemic initially halted the project, every element of Phase 1 was still completed on time thanks to the tireless efforts of more than 1,500 Hoosier workers, who followed health and safety protocols while working more than 418,000 hours to help transform the world's best basketball arena.
The most obvious upgrade for fans attending games is the new scoreboard, which actually was not originally included in Phase 1, but was a late addition. A partnership with experience design company ANC, the new LED center-hung scoreboard features more than 3,350 square feet of video area, two LED rings, and underbelly rings so fans sitting closer to the court can still see the scoreboard.
The other obvious update is the installation of new dark gray seats in the main bowl, which replace the original green seats that have been in place since the building opened in 1999. The green seats remain in the Krieg DeVault and Balcony levels for now, but will be replaced in future phases of the renovation.
Phase 1 also focused heavily on upgrading existing premium spaces and creating new experiences within the building.
All suites on the KeyBank level were modernized and updated and 10 new suites and two new loge terraces were added. Upgrades were also made to the Courtside Club adjacent to the Pacers locker room, which will now have reduced capacity on game nights and more custom food and beverage options, including a "grab-and-go" station.
One of the more impressive additions is the installation of two new clubs on the east and west sides of the event level, the PointsBet Hardwood Club and the '67 Club. Each area is open exclusively to those sitting in the main bowl sections on that side of the court. The PointsBet Hardwood Club has the feel of a modern sports bar, with large LED screens. The '67 Club, named after the year the franchise was founded, has more of a sophisticated, speakeasy vibe.
"We've done a lot of homework and found that people are really wanting experiences within the experience they're already getting at our events," EVP and Chief Sales & Marketing Officer Todd Taylor said. "They're searching for different destinations within the building in which to spend time and interact in different ways."
To make room for the new clubs, the Salesforce Court, the practice court of the Indiana Fever, was raised to street level and had a brand new playing surface installed. Raising the court allows for easier access to the space for community and youth events, as well as creating space on the event level for the new Fever locker room. The new locker room is among the best in the WNBA and includes a film room, larger weight room, and hydro-therapy tubs.
Other renovations include improvements to the KeyBank level, a new star complex for concerts and events, an overhaul of the media workroom, and upgrades to the event level kitchen.
Phases 2 and 3 of construction will continue as planned over the next two years, with focus turning to the Krieg DeVault and Balcony levels as well as the exterior of the building, including the development of a new plaza on the north side of the building.
"This will look and feel to a lot of people like a new building," EVP for Corporate Communications, Community Engagement, and Facility Operations Mel Raines said. "But it's the same great Fieldhouse that's beloved in the NBA, it's still the best place to watch a basketball game in the country and the world. It just has some upgrades."