Renovations to Bankers Life Fieldhouse totaling roughly $362 million, including $295 million in public money, began in February.
After some initial trepidation that the coronavirus pandemic would delay construction and add an additional year past the October 2022 deadline, the renovation remains on schedule according to Marion County Capital Improvement Board (CIB) Executive Director Andy Mallon.
When asked about positive cases at Bankers Life, Mallon said, there had been “a handful” of workers that tested positive for COVID-19 at the construction site, but they have not been back to the building, and there have not been any work stoppages because of the coronavirus.
“We were able to keep pace and none of the potential roadblocks got in our way,” Mallon said. “So we’ve just decided, we’re making good progress and we can keep going. There was a fear in the beginning that maybe if the coronavirus were to hit the building significantly, that we could have large scale work stoppages and lose time that way.
“We didn’t want to take that risk, but we haven’t had that. We’ve been using all of the precautions with face masks, and face shields and social distancing. And frankly, the building’s been completely empty, which is really helpful. The construction workers can spread out and they’ve been doing a tremendous job. We’ve seen tremendous buy-in from the contractors.”
Because Bankers Life is unoccupied with the Pacers playing in the bubble at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Kissimmee, Florida, other improvements have taken place inside the arena that were initially part of later phases of the renovation.
Phase One focused on renovations inside of Bankers Life such as refurbished club seating and suites, renovated upper and lower bowls and two additional club seating areas totaling $130 million. Mallon said they’ve escalated $30 million into the renovation this year to finish projects while the arena is empty.
One of the main attractions scheduled to be completed during Phase One is the arena’s new scoreboard.
The scoreboard will cost $4.3 million with completion set for mid-October. The 2020-21 NBA season isn’t expected to begin until December, though where teams will play and whether fans can attend has not been determined.
The new scoreboard is 20-feet x 52.5-feet and provides an additional 10 feet of video panels. Underbelly video panels add improved sight lines for fans sitting closer to the court.
Other improvements include touch-less faucets and bathroom fixtures. An outdoor canopy that will feature a basketball court in the summer and an outdoor ice skating rink in the winter, and the Pacers practice court will be visible from the ground level of the north plaza of Bankers Life.
The renovations will not affect Pacers home games or have any effect on the 2021 NBA All-Star Game.
The summer renovation schedule would’ve displaced the Indiana Fever for two seasons. Since the Fever are holding their season inside the wubble at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, they’ll be displaced for only one season. They’ll call Hinkle Fieldhouse their temporary home next season.