INDIANAPOLIS — When fans return to Gainbridge Fieldhouse in the fall, it will have a fresh look to its balcony level. All new seats, renovated restrooms, upgraded concession stands and even a new viewing deck are part of the work this summer.
Construction crews have been working 24 hours a day since May on all the renovations. It’s the third phase of a $360 million renovation project.
”We have worked hard to create the most iconic environment in the NBA,” said Danny Lopez, the Pacers VP of Corporate Communications.
Lopez said the renovations are the second biggest in the history of the NBA, coming in behind Madison Square Garden from a few years ago.
”It’s an incredible building, but it needed some upgrades, and so when people come back, they’ll see a lot more standing room, they’ve already seen a lot more bars, they’ll see more artwork,” Lopez said.
One of the most unique additions to Gainbridge will be a standing-room-only viewing deck on the west side of the balcony level for fans to hang out and enjoy the game.
”It’ll look out into the city skyline and look into the bowl, so just gives a different dimension, really opens up the building,” said Lopez.
While the games are played inside Gainbridge, Lopez said another game changer is being built outside the fieldhouse – the Bicentennial Unity Plaza.
”It’s designed to give people a whole lot of experiences when they come down here that are just a whole lot bigger than the game of basketball,” Lopez said.
Anyone driving near Gainbridge has seen the construction right next door going on for months now. The plaza will feature interactive art, places to watch Indiana’s teams play and a pavilion with a basketball court for most of the year and an ice skating rink during the colder months.
”It’ll be an ice skating rink larger than the one at Rockefeller Center is what we like to talk about,” Lopez said.
Lopez said the plaza makes the city even more walkable, connecting people to places easier, including local businesses.
Kels Watson is the owner of Sauce on the Side, right across Pennsylvania St. from Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Watson and his staff have watched the construction of the plaza from demolition of the old parking garage to now. He said they’re excited to see it finished.
”When you have all-day events, you’re just bringing more people to downtown area, so it’s not just the lunch crowd or the dinner crowd,” Watson said.
Watson said this is just another big piece helping to attract people to downtown, and hopefully to his restaurant.
”That’s really going to help increase sales, increase exposure,” Watson said.
Fans’ first chance to see the renovations to Gainbridge Fieldhouse will be in October. Lopez said several popular artists will break in the new and improved venue before the Pacers season gets started again.
The viewing deck will take a little longer than October, though. Lopez said he expects that to finish in late November or early December.
As for Bicentennial Unity Plaza, Lopez said the party will start there sometime in April of 2023.
The plaza and fieldhouse aren’t the only big changes coming to that area in downtown. Just catty corner to the plaza is the old Marion County Jail.
We asked Mayor Joe Hogsett what’s next for the area, and he said it still houses the forensics lab. Once that lab moves, the building will be demolished. Hogsett expects big things from the space.
“I would suggest that that property and other properties to the east will really become the hottest pieces of development property in downtown Indianapolis,” Hogsett said.