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Bankers Life Fieldhouse Renovations, Lease Extension Approved

Plans are taking shape for future Bankers Life Fieldhouse renovations, as county officials voted Friday to approve a 25-year lease extension with the Indiana Pacers.

With their current lease approaching its 2024 expiration, officials have been working with the Pacers on a proposed lease extension that would include renovations to Bankers Life Fieldhouse–the team’s home arena in downtown Indianapolis. In a crucial step toward completing that deal, the Marion County Capital Improvement Board voted unanimously on Friday morning to approve a lease extension.

Under the terms of the agreement, the Pacers would remain at Bankers Life Fieldhouse through at least the 2043-44 NBA season, with options that could extend it an additional three years. As part of the terms, Pacers Sports & Entertainment would contribute $65 million of a $360-million public-private partnership to pay for capital improvements at the arena.

The agreement is not completely final at this point, as it is contingent on Indiana lawmakers approving a bill that would help pay for the renovations, and the Indianapolis City Council would have to vote separately to approve the city’s contribution. However, the bill at the state level is making progress. More from the Indianapolis Star:

That’s the purpose of Senate Bill 7, which the Indiana House advanced on a 78-13 vote late Thursday. The intricate legislation would do the same for a proposed $150 million soccer stadium for the Indy Eleven. It now heads to the Senate.

The CIB, funded through that legislation, would provide $270 million toward upgrades of Bankers Life Fieldhouse over the course of the 25-year extension. The city would contribute the remaining $25 million, contingent on the City-County Council’s approval.

In a statement Friday through a spokesperson, Mayor Joe Hogsett said of the agreement: “Over the coming weeks, it is my hope that the spirit of collaboration exhibited today will carry forward into bipartisan support for this agreement at the state and local level.”

Under the terms, the city and Pacers will spend $360 million to upgrade and operate Bankers Life Fieldhouse and to create a sprawling public plaza along Pennsylvania Avenue. That amount includes $65 million from the Pacers.

The Pacers have also released more details on the planned renovations, which will bring changes to arena inside and out. One of the major additions will be a new outdoor public plaza, which will be designed to host events on a year-round basis.

Inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the Pacers are planning more gathering spaces. Part of that will involve removing the last eight rows of fixed seating on the arena’s east and west ends in favor of new social spaces. Other upgrades would include new observation decks, and renovated suites.

According to a press release issued by the Pacers on Friday, major renovations will take place in three phases beginning in 2020. Construction is being planned as to not interfere with events during the NBA season–including the 2021 All-Star Game, which is slated for Bankers Life Fieldhouse–meaning that the arena would close over the summer months. To accommodate construction, it is expected that the WNBA’s Indiana Fever will play its home games elsewhere during its 2020 and 2021 seasons, and part of the 2022 campaign.

“The Simon family has always desired for the Pacers to stay in Indiana for the long term,” Herb Simon, Owner of Pacers Sports & Entertainment, said in a press statement. “The new agreement ensures that the Pacers will be here and that the Fieldhouse will continue to be the best facility for generations of fans and guests.”

Renderings courtesy Pacers Sports & Entertainment.

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