Pacers Sports & Entertainment has largely completed the first phase of renovations to Bankers Life Fieldhouse following 10 months of construction.
Upgrades to the 21-year-old facility include new courtside clubs, an improved retractable seating system and a refreshed center-hung scoreboard, which were unveiled during a media tour Thursday.
“We have now completed the first step in modernizing the Fieldhouse, preserving what has always made it unique while creating experiences for the fans of today and tomorrow,” said Rick Fuson PS&E president and chief operating officer, in written remarks.
PS&E owns the Pacers and Fever franchises.
The Pacers initially considered scaling back renovations to the Fieldhouse because of the coronavirus pandemic, but later opted to move ahead as planned to make the most of additional time from delays to the return of NBA games and other events.
The renovations are part of an overall $360 million project, which includes $295 million from the Capital Improvement Board—which owns the venue—and the city of Indianapolis, after the Pacers in 2019 struck a 25-year deal with the state to remain in Indianapolis.
The deal also includes millions of dollars in technology upgrades over a later 10-year period and continued subsidies that will increase over time.
Among the biggest changes to the facility are the addition of two new clubs exclusively for ticket holders in certain sections: the ’67 Club, which has a speakeasy environment, and the PointsBet Hardwood Club, which is more in line aesthetically with a traditional sports bar.
The scoreboard above center court has been outfitted with new features, including 3,350 square feet of enhanced video output and underbelly screens for visitors seated on lower levels.
The practice court at the Fieldhouse, generally used by the Indiana Fever, was moved up to the street level to make room below for a new, larger locker room for the franchise. The refresh also includes 10 new suites and two loge boxes on the Key Bank level, improvements to a lounge area for entertainment acts, and a larger kitchen.
The only remaining items are a few pieces of trim here and there and the completion of the loge boxes.
The changes come as the facility begins to welcome back fans for Pacers games and other events, and about a month after the Fieldhouse received an internationally recognized safety certification for changes implemented during the pandemic.
The second phase of construction is expected to start in March, with work more noticeable on the outside than what came during the first phase—which included no exterior changes.
Among the biggest parts of the second phase is the demolition of the Maryland Street garage to make way for a new plaza space. The structure is expected to be torn down starting in March or April.
Even so, little is expected to change with the facade of the Fieldhouse itself, after the Pacers and CIB opted for a simpler design than the one originally proposed, which would have included curtain wall glass wrapping the upper portion of the entry pavilion. Instead, the building will largely retain its current look.
Mel Raines, executive vice president for corporate communications, community engagement and facility operations, said the first phase was the largest of the three in terms of financial investment, with half of the budget used for that portion of the project.
“For many fans, this is going to look like a whole new Fieldhouse,” she said. “But it’s the same great Fieldhouse that’s beloved in the NBA, and it’s still the best place to watch a basketball game in the country and the world.”