2023 Year in Review: Cities look to attract smaller-scale events at new arenas

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Patch Development broke ground in November on a 3,400-seat arena that will be the new home of an Indiana Pacers developmental league team. (Rendering courtesy of Patch Development)

While central Indiana has its share of large arenas and stadiums, the region has long been short on venues for events that draw only a few thousand spectators.

Now, three arenas with capacities ranging from 3,400 to 8,500 are in varying stages of planning in Fishers, Noblesville and on the IUPUI campus in downtown Indianapolis.

Construction is underway on the $170 million Fishers Event Center near Interstate 69 at Fishers District.

The arena is expected to hold 6,500 people for Indy Fuel minor league hockey and basketball games, and up to 8,500 for concerts and other entertainment events. Its steel structure is in place, and the Fuel could begin playing games there by late next year.

Noblesville officials broke ground in November on a 3,400-seat arena that will be the new home of the Indiana Pacers developmental league team. The 120,000-square-foot Noblesville Event Center will be built at the city’s Innovation Mile business corridor—between 141st Street and Interstate 69, east of Olio Road.

The original plan was for the arena to be built about three miles northwest of the site at Finch Creek Park. However, city officials announced new plans in July for the location at Innovation Mile.

Noblesville secured a 10-year deal with Pacers Sports & Entertainment to move the G League Fort Wayne Mad Ants to the city. The team will play about 40 home games per season in Noblesville.

And state lawmakers in April approved $89.5 million to design and build a 5,000-seat arena at IUPUI. The proposed venue would be home to the indoor athletic programs for what will soon be Indiana University Indianapolis.

Mayor Joe Hogsett’s administration, a Pacers Sports & Entertainment executive, the Indiana Sports Corp. and other high-profile organizations pushed for the arena—with the goal of bringing more NCAA championships, esports competitions and other activities to the city.

Funding for the arena includes a stipulation that at least one other long-term tenant sign a lease on the building before construction gets underway. That has not yet happened.•

Check out more year-in-review stories from 2023.

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