22 years and painting: Pacers muralist outlines upcoming schedule amid construction

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INDIANAPOLIS — It may seem hard to believe, but the opening tip for the upcoming Indiana Pacers season is less than two months away. Tickets go on sale even sooner, September 30th.

Bankers Life Fieldhouse is still very much a construction site, but staff say the stadium will be ready for action come October 13th when the renovated fieldhouse is set to host the Memphis Grizzlies for preseason play. 

If you drive past the complex turned construction site, you’re sure to see, and hear, plenty of equipment – a watchful eye will notice one worker whose tools make much less sound compared to the others. 

“I’m just totally excited about this construction project, I was here when we built the field house,” Bankers Life Fieldhouse Muralist Barbara Stahl said. “I’m the official painter lady for the Pacers!”

High above the noise of the heavy machinery down below is Stahl. She’s been painting murals of the upcoming Pacers schedule on a building face along S Pennsylvania Street for 22 years. 

Her year project’s backdrop admittedly looks different this go around. As the multi-million-dollar fieldhouse facelift goes on around her.

“From way up there, it’s just amazingly mind-boggling that’s all I can say,” Stahl said. “How these construction ‘artists’, I’ll call them… because they are construction artists, get all this done the way they do. They are amazing.”

For all intents and purposes. The massive 35’ by 75’ canvas – some may call a wall – is Stahl’s.

“Basically, yeah! It is, I do feel that way,” Stahl said with a laugh. “I do feel like it’s my wall. But I love it so much. I really look forward to it. I love it so much.”

It’s painstaking to paint on such a grand scale. Stahl rises early each morning to complete as much work as she can before heat indexes near the wall surface top 120.

“Depending on the day of course, but even on a cooler day the sun, this is a south-facing wall it’s probably 120 heat index up there, maybe more honestly,” Stahl said. “It’s so hot, the paint literally dries on the end of your paintbrush before you can paint with is, so you just have to quit. It’s just too hot some days.”

Despite its challenges, it’s a labor of love Stahl wouldn’t trade.

“I’m very thankful and grateful they’re leaving this considering everything else which was demolished from the construction project. But this wall has kinda become iconic! Literally millions of people have seen the schedule wall,” Stahl said. “This opportunity is the greatest thing that’s happened to me really… and my association with the Pacers is so meaningful and it’s amazing, yes I love it very much.” 

… except when she has to paint the name of one particular city up north. 

“Not in our house Detroit! That’s what I say,” Stahl said. “Other teams too, especially if we played in close games with them last year.”

Individual tickets go on sale Sept. 30th. You can view the full schedule, on a smaller scale, here.

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