Bankers Life Fieldhouse, formerly Conseco Fieldhouse, opened in 1999 as the new home of the Indiana Pacers. The venue was constructed in a little over two years to replace the aging Market Square Arena and give the Pacers a venue befitting an NBA team. This is another of the few multi-use venues which was built with basketball as the primary tenant, with hockey fading into the background. In total the cost of the building development and construction was $183 million.
Bankers Life Fieldhouse has a basketball capacity of 18,165, a concert capacity of 19,000 and a hockey capacity of just 12,300. This is because the asymmetrical design of the Fieldhouse emphasizes sightlines for basketball, while many of the seats at one end of the arena are left with obstructed views for hockey. This has been sighted in the past as one of the main reasons that Indianapolis never comes up in the discussion for potential NHL relocation despite its proximity to the Canadian border and its healthy market size.
As with all good basketball arenas, the first event to be held at the new Bankers Life Fieldhouse in November 1999 was a home game for the primary tenant. The game saw the Pacers host the Boston Celtics and the venue would go on to see unprecedented early success as that same season it hosted Games 3, 4 and 5 of the NBA Finals as the Pacers took on, and were eventually defeated by, the Los Angeles Lakers. Bankers Life Fieldhouse has also seen the WNBA Finals on two occasions as the Indiana Fever took on the Phoenix Mercury in 2009 and the Minnesota Lynx in 2012.
Bankers Life Fieldhouse is a highly thought of venue in basketball circles. It was the hose of the Big Ten Basketball Tournament every year from 2008-2012, and currently alternates with the United Center in Chicago for this event. In 2005, 2006 and 2007, Bankers Life Fieldhouse was ranked the number one venue in the NBA according to a Sports business Journal reader survey. This status as seconded in 2006 when The Ultimate Sports Road Trip visited all 122 venues of the big four sports league teams and concluded that Bankers Life was the best venue in the country.
One of the newest improvements to bankers Life Fieldhouse is a state-of-the-art scoreboard which was added to the facility in 2012. The scoreboard features twin 1080p high def video screens, each extending almost from foul line to foul line above the court. The rectangular structure is also capped at each end by a 25’ by 14’ giant screen facing the baseline. The result is an incredible visual experience no matter where you are sat in the arena which is comparable to the best such scoreboards in the country. A new sound system was also put in at this point to give the visiting fans a full audio and visual show to go along with actually watching the game as it is played on the hardwood.
The arena has a unique art deco feel, with old fashioned ticket windows and painted advertisements on bare brick walls throughout the building. Bands, drum groups, cheerleaders and more welcome fans into the building and onto the concourse levels, suggesting that this is almost more of a party than a game to the Pacer fans.
image courtesy of nba.com