CIB to vote Friday on long-term deal for the Pacers

Bankers Life Fieldhouse opened in 1999. (Photo: WTHR)
CIB Vote on Pacers Deal
Deal to keep the Pacers

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - The city's Capital Improvement Board votes Friday on a new 25-year deal with the Indiana Pacers. It's a deal that's been in the works for several months.

Eyewitness News has been told the agreement calls for roughly $270 million in improvements to Bankers Life Fieldhouse, which the CIB owns. The Fieldhouse opened in November 1999 and has had several upgrades since.

Key players have been tight-lipped about the deal. Mayor Joe Hogsett declined to answer questions about it. But when asked how important it is to keep the Pacers in Indianapolis, he said, "Well, I hope they sign a 25-year agreement with us."

The current agreement, which is ten years, runs through the 2023-2024 season. It requires the city to cover operating costs and several upgrades to the Fieldhouse. The "amended" deal calls for "a Fieldhouse of the Future" expansion. The project is said to be a legacy for team owner Herb Simon, who is 84 years old.

As for how the CIB will pay for its portion of the expansion? Eyewitness News was told the money will come from extending the deadline on several downtown hospitality taxes set to expire in the next few years and expanding the area downtown where those taxes are collected.

Several fans said they were glad to hear of a long-term deal.

David Brown said, "I am happy about that, it's exciting news to have them here for another 25-plus years."

Rayanne Folsom-Ross agreed, "It's good for the city and the Pacers. I mean where else can they go? This is a basketball city. Where else can they go?"

The answer? To another city wanting an NBA team.

Rick Schatz, general manager of the just-opened Hyatt Place and Hyatt House hotels said of the Pacers and Bankers Life Fieldhouse, "It generates automatic business for us which is great."

His hotels are on Pennsylvania Street, right across from the Fieldhouse. Schatz said it's not just he basketball games that generate business but the concerts and other events the Fieldhouse hosts, roughly 500 a year.

"Not only is it the fan base and local events here, but it's the out-of-town fans that come here and spend money. It's just really incredible to have that opportunity in town," he said.

While the CIB is expected to sign off on the deal Friday morning (and the Pacers soon to follow, if they haven't already) the deal still needs City-County Council approval.

Some councilors are expected to question the deal or at least parts of it. While the current deal doesn't expire until 2024, supporters want it in place well before then, if possible in the coming months.