Bankers Life Fieldhouse, one of the country’s greatest basketball showplaces, is very literally the heart of championship basketball this year, extending the typical March Madness to include a six-week, 43-day stretch that will see 15 high school and college tournament champions crowned in downtown Indianapolis. Over 70 different teams and 800 youth, high school, college and pro athletes will compete inside the arena routinely ranked among the best in the nation. Over 400,000 basketball fans are anticipated to visit the 16-year-old facility that USA Today once called “A Cathedral to Basketball.”
State champions, Big Ten men’s and women’s conference champions and NCAA national champions will earn their titles in five of the next six weekends at The Fieldhouse – the home of the NBA Indiana Pacers and WNBA Indiana Fever.
The month-and-a-half hoops marathon begins with Wednesday’s Pacers contest against the New York Knicks and culminates with three national championship games as part of the 2016 NCAA Women’s Final Four, April 3-5, and a Pacers game 24 hours later against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. In between are 11 more Pacers games, 26 games in a two-week run of Big Ten men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, the IHSAA girls and boys state finals, and a pair of city championship games for youth.
With the exception of the two youth city championship games, every game will showcase Bankers Life Fieldhouse to regional or national TV audiences with 53 exposures between CBS, ESPN, ESPN2, Big Ten Network and FOX Sports Indiana.
Remarkable about the rigorous schedule is that, during a six-week period packed so tight with tournaments, the Pacers play 13 home games compared to just nine on the road. The Pacers play at least one home game in every week of the stretch, including a Monday, March 7 date against San Antonio, during just two days separating the pair of Big Ten tournaments. Following the Big Ten men’s tournament, the Pacers will play five straight home games from March 15 to 24.
Fieldhouse staff will change the arena playing floor 16 times in 43 days – including five consecutive days of transition from Pacers to concert to Pacers to IHSAA to Pacers to Big Ten, from Feb. 24 to 29. A complete conversion of operational space, including re-allocation of 8,800 square feet of storage to accommodate a media operations center – plus internal and external décor – surrounds each of the Big Ten and NCAA tournament events.
Three concerts are wedged between basketball events on Feb. 25 and March 18 & 30. During the building’s only 48-hour stretch with no games or setup, the Fever will conduct a 400-guest Legacy Luncheon honoring its three-time Olympian and longtime All-Star, Tamika Catchings, on March 22 in the Entry Pavilion.
Indeed, Bankers Life Fieldhouse is a very busy house of championships and champions.