Fieldhouse promoters have high hopes for first tennis event

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Pacers Sports & Entertainment is preparing to host its first tennis match inside the 12-year-old venue now known as Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Jan. 29.

PS&E and local tennis officials are hopeful the exhibition featuring well-known pros Pete Sampras and Todd Martin is a springboard to much bigger tennis events in downtown Indianapolis.

 “Ultimately we’d like to get a Davis Cup match,” said Rick Fuson, PS&E vice president and director of Bankers Life Fieldhouse. “We’ve talked about hosting a tennis match inside the fieldhouse for a long time, and we think the community is really going to embrace the event.”

The event, called “Match For a Cure,” was put together by PS&E, California-based Live Nation Entertainment Inc. and Michigan-based BP Sports and Entertainment. Although organizers wouldn’t discuss financial details, they said at least 25 percent of the proceeds will go to organizations dealing with cancer research and treatment, said BP Sports spokesman Todd Schimpf.

Part of the proceeds will go to the Miracle Match Foundation, which was founded by leukemia survivor and tennis professional Bill Przybysz.

The economic impact for the Jan. 29 event will be relatively modest compared to a mega-event like the Super Bowl. Sports business experts pegged it at $1 million to $3 million. But a Davis Cup match could carry an economic impact of more than $5 million.

“If you throw in TV and other media exposure, an event like that can have an easy eight-figure payoff for the host city,” said sports economist Andrew Zimbalist.

Przybysz started the Match For a Cure concept in 1999 by challenging John McEnroe to an exhibition challenge to raise money for cancer. Przybysz is expected to also take part in the on-court action at the Indianapolis event.

The event, which will feature several matches including Sampras and Martin playing singles as well as doubles with two local celebrities, is expected to draw 10,000 to 12,000 spectators, Schimpf said. Organizers hope people coming in town for the Feb. 5 Super Bowl at Lucas Oil Stadium will help grow attendance for the tennis match.

Club level tickets for the event are $27, lower-level tickets are $47 and $67, and courtside tickets—which include a meet-and-greet with the players—cost $150.

“We think a lot of people who live here as well as visitors that happen to be here will want to come downtown to watch some high-level tennis in a good venue,” Fuson said.

Tickets went on sale Dec. 27 and sales have been brisk, Schimpf said, adding that an advertising campaign including web, print and radio ads will be launched after Jan. 1.

“We think there’s going to be a real buzz around the city and we think that will feed into this event,” Schimpf said.

Fuson is confident the same attributes that make Bankers Life Fieldhouse one of the nation’s most highly rated basketball venues also will translate to tennis.
David Morton, an Indianapolis sports marketer who has a long history of involvement with the U.S. Tennis Association, agrees.

“The sight lines in the Fieldhouse will be fantastic,” said Morton, president of Sunrise Sports Group. “It’s so intimate in there, and people will be so close to the action, it’s going to be a great venue for tennis.”

If the event next month goes well, Morton thinks the Fieldhouse could lure a Davis Cup match in two to five years, and possibly a Federation Cup match, the women’s version of the Davis Cup, sooner than that.

“A lot of cities want to host a Fed Cup or Davis Cup match, so you have to work hard to get in the rotation,” Morton said. “But this city has a very deep history in tennis and a very broad commitment to the sport. And it’s very positive to have an organization like Pacers Sports & Entertainment that wants to be involved.”

Fuson said setting up a tennis court inside the Fieldhouse wouldn’t pose a major challenge for the PS&E staff.

“We’ve held a lot of events in that facility,” Fuson said. “We’ve moved swimming pools in and out of that facility, so I don’t think we’ll have any problem hosting this event and others we have planned for the week of the Super Bowl.”



  • Capacity
    Agreed that the max capacity may be too large for the draw, but with their ability to scale the house down (either with curtains or reduced lighting on the upper levels), it should still have a good feel.
  • Cool!
    It will be nice to have some pro tennis back in Indy. Not sure about the venue (maybe a bit too big for the draw), but glad to see something happening. Indy needs pro tennis again...perhaps Courier's Champ Series can come to Indy next year...they did St. L and CHI this year...

    Anyone know him?

Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. So as I read this the one question that continues to come to me to ask is. Didn't Indiana only have a couple of exchanges for people to opt into which were very high because we really didn't want to expect the plan. So was this study done during that time and if so then I can understand these numbers. I also understand that we have now opened up for more options for hoosiers to choose from. Please correct if I'm wrong and if I'm not why was this not part of the story so that true overview could be taken away and not just parts of it to continue this negative tone against the ACA. I look forward to the clarity.

  2. It's really very simple. All forms of transportation are subsidized. All of them. Your tax money already goes toward every single form of transportation in the state. It is not a bad thing to put tax money toward mass transit. The state spends over 1,000,000,000 (yes billion) on roadway expansions and maintenance every single year. If you want to cry foul over anything cry foul over the overbuilding of highways which only serve people who can afford their own automobile.

  3. So instead of subsidizing a project with a market-driven scope, you suggest we subsidize a project that is way out of line with anything that can be economically sustainable just so we can have a better-looking skyline?

  4. Downtowner, if Cummins isn't getting expedited permitting and tax breaks to "do what they do", then I'd be happy with letting the market decide. But that isn't the case, is it?

  5. Patty, this commuter line provides a way for workers (willing to work lower wages) to get from Marion county to Hamilton county. These people are running your restaurants, hotels, hospitals, and retail stores. I don't see a lot of residents of Carmel working these jobs.