IUPUI officials are negotiating with the Indiana Pacers to play home basketball games at the nearby 18,000-seat Conseco Fieldhouse.
The Jaguars normally play home games at their 1,200-seat campus gymnasium, and coach Ron Hunter said the program “will not be able to move forward any further unless we get a new facility.”
The Summit League school on the west side of downtown Indianapolis moved to NCAA Division I in 1998. There are no locker rooms and few amenities for players or fans at the current gym, which is in the IUPUI Natatorium.
“We can’t build one [on campus] because of the economy and those type of things. We’ve got maybe one of the five best facilities in the world just a few blocks away. Why not take advantage of it?” Hunter told The Indianapolis Star. “We’ve been underprivileged in the way we’re living. A place like Conseco is not a want at this point. It’s a need.”
The Pacers said the biggest obstacle is a possible conflict with the NBA schedule, which will be released in August.
“But our folks want IUPUI to play here. It would be great for our environment,” said Jim Morris, president of Pacers Sports & Entertainment.
IUPUI athletic director Mike Moore said he doesn’t think the scheduling issues are insurmountable. The Summit League usually plays conference games on Thursday and Saturday nights, and Moore said he has talked with other league members about playing on different days to avoid conflicts with the Pacers.
“At the end of the day, we’re going to play as many games at Conseco Fieldhouse as possible,” Moore said.
The Jaguars played at Conseco twice last season, averaging fewer than 3,000 fans.
Hunter said moving to the fieldhouse will make it easier for IUPUI to attract quality non-conference opponents. He said Wake Forest, Minnesota and North Carolina State have expressed interest in playing the Jaguars there.