INDIANAPOLIS — Bankers Life Fieldhouse is closed for the summer for phase two of a $360 million renovation. Most of the work right now is demolition to make way for major improvements to the fan experience.
"It breaks my heart a little bit,” said Mel Raines, Pacers Sports & Entertainment Executive Vice President for Corporate Communications, Community Engagement, and Facility Operations. “My job is to make sure this place is clean and perfect for all of our fans who come to events. I know it's going to be better when it's done. But this part of demo is just amazing to watch how quickly it's going and how much it's going to transform the building."
Raines oversees the massive project, with work going 20 hours a day, seven days a week. She gave 13News a hard hat tour of the Fieldhouse Wednesday afternoon, with power tools and machinery raising a racket throughout the building. The three-year, three-phase project is funded in partnership with the Capital Improvement Board as part of the Pacers' 25-year extension of their lease on the Fieldhouse.
"It's got great bones, but it needed a little bit of love in some areas,” said Raines. “The fans of today's generation really want different experiences than they did in 1999, and we wanted to create that. When we're done, we'll have premium for everybody.”
Phase one was completed in January, which included a new giant video scoreboard and new clubs and seating on the event level.
The Pacers missing the NBA playoffs allowed phase two to begin earlier than expected. The Indiana Fever have moved their games to Indiana Farmers Coliseum for the rest of the season.
Phase two focuses on the mid-level and entry pavilion. Mid-level seating, suites, concourses, concessions, and clubs will be brand new. More fans in more areas will be able to see the action even when they are not in their seats.
When fans return to the Fieldhouse in October, they'll see a huge change in the entry pavilion, with an expanded view right into the playing bowl from the moment they walk in the door. The classic box office is gone from the pavilion to provide a north entrance and view to the new outdoor plaza under construction.
"You can see this is really reimagining the Fieldhouse that we've all known and loved since 1999 into a new building."
Phase three next summer takes the renovations up to the balcony to complete the project inside and out by the fall of 2022.