Potential Bankers Life Fieldhouse upgrades could be in the works, with the renovations perhaps part of a long-term lease extension with the Indiana Pacers.
Bankers Life Fieldhouse originally opened in 1999, and the Pacers are currently playing there under a lease that runs through 2024. Officials are exploring the possibility of future upgrades to the arena, as the Capital Improvement Board of Managers (CIB) is expected to pursue state funding for major renovations as part of a larger 25-year improvement plan for the facilities it controls.
There are a few unknowns at this point, as it remains to be seen what upgrades would be proposed for the arena and exactly how the project would be funded. Still, a few officials who will be key in the process–including Indiana governor Eric Holcomb–are open to considering the plan as a way to extend the Pacers’ lease at the downtown Indianapolis arena. More from the Indianapolis Business Journal:
But Holcomb told IBJ that the CIB has not yet shared the details of its plans or told him the specific dollar amount it’s seeking—and those details will determine his level of support.
What’s clear is that renovations to Bankers Life could be key to securing a long-term deal to keep the Pacers in Indianapolis. The Pacers’ lease at the fieldhouse runs through 2024. The Indianapolis Colts have a deal to use Lucas Oil Stadium through 2037. (The Colts could terminate the deal in 2030, though, if the team is not among the top five NFL teams in gross operating revenue.)
Herb Simon, the 84-year-old owner of Pacers Sports & Entertainment, has talked openly about his desire to make a long-term commitment to the city, saying last year that the team will stay put for the rest of his lifetime and beyond as his son, Steve Simon, someday takes over. But in return for staying, Simon has said, the Pacers want improvements to the fieldhouse.
Neither the CIB nor the Pacers have provided any specifics about proposed upgrades. CIB President Melina Kennedy has told IBJ that renovations would revolve around shoring up infrastructure, implementing new technology—both behind the scenes and for patrons—and creating communal spaces.
Until a firm plan surfaces, it will be hard to know for sure what the Pacers expect in Bankers Life Fieldhouse renovations. That being said, should the organization add social spaces and make significant technology upgrades as part of a renovation plan, it would be tapping into ongoing trends in both NBA and NHL arena renovations.