CIB to pay $3.6M to replace Bankers Life Fieldhouse roof

Banker’s Life Fieldhouse is getting an expensive new lid.

The Capital Improvement Board on Monday unanimously voted to pay South Bend-based Midland Engineering $3.6 million to replace the barrel-shaped roof on the home of the Indiana Pacers.

CIB Executive Director Barney Levengood explained the original roof on the on the 16-year-old fieldhouse had sprung several minor leaks and is due to be replaced.

“We’ve had some leaks. We’ve had some problems,” Levengood said. “I don’t want to suggest this is anything but routine maintenance. This is something we had planned on.”

Since the CIB handles major capital expenses for the fieldhouse as part of its agreement with the Pacers, the municipal board—which owns Lucas Oil Stadium, Victory Field and the Indiana Convention Center as well as the fieldhouse—is on the hook to pay the bill.

That's in addition to the $160 million over four years that the CIB voted in 2014 to spend on subsidy payments to the Indiana Pacers and for capital projects and improvements to Bankers Life Fieldhouse in exchange for a Pacers lease extension through the 2023-24 season.

That agreement, which includes up to three one-year-extensions, calls for the Pacers to create a separate entity to operate Bankers Life Fieldhouse and allows the team to occupy and play at the venue essentially rent free.

The roof project likely will begin April 1 and be completed Aug. 31. Levengood stressed that the work shouldn’t affect any Pacers games or other events taking place in the venue.

The fieldhouse’s roof is shaped like a barrel to mimic old-time venues such as Hinkle Fieldhouse.

“The city wanted the venue to have a historical feel,” said CIB member Jay Potesta. “Take one look at Hinkle Fieldhouse and you’ll see why it was built that way. It was done in that style.”

Levengood said the roof isn’t more expensive due to the structure’s shape.

“It’s architectural. It’s beautiful,” Levengood said. “It’s also very functional. The roof will be fully adhered. It’s going to be all glued down. There’s no mechanical.”

Bankers Life Fieldhouse opened in November 1999 as Conseco Fieldhouse. The 18,165-seat venue has hosted myriad events including the 2004 Short Course World Swimming Championships, Big Ten men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, the 2011 NCAA women’s Final Four, big-time boxing and concerts by Katy Perry, Paul McCartney and other big-name artists.

The fieldhouse on Saturday held auto races on a dirt track built on the arena floor.

This could be the last major fieldhouse related item these members of the CIB vote on.

CIB President Earl Goode reminded board members “that they serve at the pleasure of the mayor.”

With six of the nine CIB members appointed by outgoing Mayor Greg Ballard, a Republican, and with their terms expiring Jan. 15, Goode predicted significant turnover among the CIB ranks when Joe Hogsett, a Democrat, takes over as mayor.

“I want to have a smooth transition,” Goode, a Republican, told fellow board members. “We’re going to do whatever we’re asked in the manner we’re asked to do it.”

There is a CIB meeting scheduled for Jan. 11, but Goode asked CIB attorney Tobin McClamroch to see if Hogsett wants that meeting delayed until he can get his regime in order.

“We’re going to have to get claims paid,” Goode said. “So we’re going to have to get that worked out.”

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