The Fieldhouse celebrates 20 years in downtown Indy

Local

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Fieldhouse is celebrating 20 years in downtown Indianapolis.

The iconic Indianapolis landmark first opened as Conseco Fieldhouse in 1999 and the name changed in 2010 to Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

It took almost two and a half years to build the Fieldhouse in downtown Indianapolis. On November 6, 1999, Indiana Governor Frank O’Bannon and Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith cut the ribbon at the grand opening.

The Pacers won their first contest in the new building beating the Boston Celtics 115 to 108. Three nights later Bruce Springsteen played to a sold-out crowd of more than 18,000 fans. The building, then known as Conseco Fieldhouse, replaced an aging Market Square Arena.

Bill Benner was an Indianapolis Star sports columnist when the building first opened, but now he works for the Pacers. When the Fieldhouse was built, the southeast section of downtown was largely ignored, but the Fieldhouse helped turn the area around.

“Starting with Conseco now Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Anthem, State Farm the expansion of Lilly City Way, restaurants, the Cultural Trail linking Fletcher Place and Virginia Ave that has seen an incredible evolution,” said Benner.

The cost to build the Fieldhouse was $183 million and according to the most recent study from The Indiana University Public Policy Institute, events at the Fieldhouse generate $370 million a year and support 4,000 jobs and $152 million in wages.

In the 20 years, the Fieldhouse has given us front row seats to 3,777 ticketed events like concerts, Pacers games, including Reggie Miller’s last game in the NBA, The Fever, a short run with arena football, hundreds of NCAA and high school basketball games, swimming, dirt track racing, hockey games, rodeos and presidential speeches.

“There was a stretch in 2016 where we hosted 54 basketball games in 43 days and on three of the off days we had concerts,” said Benner. “It is the most widely used public facility in the state of Indiana.”

As the Fieldhouse turns 20, it is getting a $360 million face-lift, including an outdoor public plaza.

Improvements are expected to be finished by 2021.

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