Fieldhouse getting $16 million scoreboard, sound system

The Indiana Pacers will open the National Basketball Association regular season at Bankers Life Fieldhouse with a new $16 million audio and video system,  team officials announced Thursday afternoon.

The massive scoreboard will be five times larger than the existing one that hangs at center court. (See video below for an animated preview, then story continues.)

The audio system already has been installed and the new scoreboard will be ready Nov. 3. IBJ reported earlier Thursday that the Pacers were planning a new scoreboard for the arena. 

Pacers Sports & Entertainment is making the investment into the 13-year-old venue. But whether it will seek reimbursement from the building’s owner, the Capital Improvement Board of Marion County, remains to be seen.

Jim Morris, president of Pacers Sports & Entertainment, said at Thursday's announcement that the organization is in “preliminary conversations” with the CIB about a long-term lease. The current, 20-year agreement expires in 2019.

“I have no idea what the negotiations will entail,” Morris said of whether reimbursement will be sought from the CIB.

The building cost $185 million to construct and only $6 million has been invested in upgrades since its opening, Morris said.

Ryan Vaughn, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard's chief of staff, issued a statement Thursday afternoon saying the new scoreboard won't be a consideration in lease negotiations.

"Mayor Ballard thanks the Pacers and the Simon family for their investment at Bankers Life Fieldhouse," the statement said. "These new amenities will greatly improve the fan experience at what is still considered one of the finest venues in the nation, but they will not be a factor during the negotiations to extend the long-term management contract for the fieldhouse with Pacers Sports & Entertainment."

Nearly two years ago, the Pacers spent $1.6 million to install “ribbon boards” that display advertisements and other information around the perimeter of the 18,000-seat arena. That project was paid for with money from the CIB, which leases the Fieldhouse to the Pacers for $1 a year.

In 2010, the CIB agreed to pay $3.5 million for upgrades to the building because the Pacers said they were losing money each year on operating costs for the facility. The CIB also gave the Pacers $30 million in subsidies over the past three years.

The new rectangular scoreboard will weigh 20 tons and feature two high-definition video screens measuring 21 feet high by 50 feet long, or nearly foul line to foul line. Two video screens facing each baseline will measure 14 feet by 21 feet.

“In the fall, you will see a visual experience that I don’t think you will believe,” said Rick Fuson, chief operating officer of Pacers Sports & Entertainment. “It’s going to be an experience you’re not quite used to.”

In addition, two new LED video screens measuring 23 feet by 10 feet at the ends of each balcony area will provide fans with statistics, replays and other game-related information.

The Pacers also plan to install 330 new HD flat-screen TVs around the concourse of the arena. Improvements will also include upgrades of behind-the-scenes video and audio equipment to operate and coordinate the new scoreboard and video screens.

The sound system was in need of a major overhaul, said Fuson, noting that portions of it were brought over from the old Market Square Arena.    

The new scoreboard was designed by Atlanta-based ANC Sports.

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