"In 49 states it's just basketball... but this is Indiana". This mantra which begins the opening video on the
scoreboard was enough to give us chills, and so aptly depicts this wonderful building and the terrific
heritage that is truly Indiana basketball.
Conseco Fieldhouse opened just a year ago, and is the home to the NBA Indiana Pacers. It replaced
another downtown venue, the Market Square Arena, which was built in the 70s and from what we were told
was very cramped and drab.
The City of Indianapolis did not just build a mere arena... they built a fieldhouse, and one would have to say
it is The Fieldhouse. It was modeled after Indiana's old high school and college fieldhouses, where SRO
crowds are the norm on any given wintry night. The building is cutting edge and at the same time retro - it is
state of the art yet nostalgic. In short, it is not only a building to visit, but also to experience.
The facility is located in the city's Wholesale District, which we covered in the Indianapolis Colts report, and
has a distinct half-barrel type roof with a red brick and steel exterior. At the top of the building are huge
skylights which bathe the arena bowl in natural light during the day and provide a dramatic view of the
skyline at night from inside the bowl.
You walk into the main entry pavilion, and you are instantly mesmerized. There is an old fashioned box
office with metal bars on the windows, and high above are b/w retro ad panels and also an old style
message board similar to the type you would see at a train station. Just off the pavilion is a coffee shop, a
huge (10,000 sf) team store, a bridge to the adjoining ramp, and the Pacers practice court. Yes - practice
court. Visitors on practice days can walk into the pavilion and watch the team practice from a glassed in
area overhead.... nice!
You walk up the grand staircase, have your ticket checked and now you are in the concourse - wide, bright
and spacious. All the concourses are adorned with showcases and many displays of not only Pacers
ABA/NBA memorabilia, but also mementos of Indiana college and high school greats. In short, this is a
veritable museum to Indiana basketball! There were also huge displays highlighting the Pacers history,
from their beginnings as an ABA team to their ABA titles to their merger to their recent successes, all shown
through large headline displays recreated from the Indianapolis Star. Other similar displays showcased the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Indiana's health care. The walls are all done in red brick with wood
accents, all the light fixtures are done in an old fashioned retro look, and all ad panels are HAND PAINTED
on the brick facade.
As if that's not enough, there are also false storefronts of a 50's style Main Street, and there is a shoeshine
stand (open for business!), a barber shop with a face painter, and an old time TV store, displaying the old
RCA Victor console sets. Just incredible!
Of course, the food selection is amazing, with daiquiri bars, all the usual stuff, carved corned beef and
pastrami sandwiches, a separate restaurant on the UPPER concourse offering a mid priced buffet, the
Varsity Club on the club level with a great view of the pavilion. Points of sale for concessions and
merchandise were EVERYWHERE...
The arena bowl is octagon shaped, broken into three levels, and of course, the skylights at the top of the
building look out into the skyline. There are no back lit ad boards - all ads are either front lit or neon... at the
top of the bowl are hand operated NBA out of town scores. And one section in the clubs is called "the
bleachers", and has authentic fieldhouse style bleacher seating - no backs, and numbers stenciled on the
Gratefully, no silly banners. The Pacers just show their ABA titles and their NBA division/conference
championships, as well as five Pacers greats. Since this was opening night, they unveiled their 99-00
conference championship banners in a short but very tasteful ceremony.
To summarize - if this report sounds like we are gushing, it is because we are. This is our 13th NBA venue,
and we seriously doubt that our NBA experience in the rest of the league will be able to top this one.
Conseco Fieldhouse should serve as the blueprint for any professional or college team looking to build a
new basketball facility. Not part of the grand plan, but we are already eyeballing the 2002 World Basketball
Championship for a return visit (with a side trip to Victory Field for some Indians AAA baseball of course!)
Food and team store 8
Scoreboard and electronics 7
Fan support 7
Location and neighborhood 9
Banners and history 7
In game entertainment 7
Concourses/fan comfort 9
Bleacher seating in the end zone clubs 3; USRT red carpet treatment 4;
Practice court right
in the building and
viewable by the
Total Points: 78