The Indianapolis Star featured the 1999 grand opening of Conseco Fieldhouse on Page 1A. Larry Bird, Oscar Robertson and John Wooden were on hand. The story was written by Bill Benner, who was a sports reporter and columnist at IndyStar for 33 years, and who later joined the Pacers organization.
We were back home again in Indiana Saturday.
Back home again in a building called Conseco Fieldhouse (now Bankers Life Fieldhouse), a place that, even on its opening night, already had the feel of a long-standing Hoosier hardwood homestead.
Back home again to see John Wooden, Indiana legend, present the game ball.
Back home again to see Larry Bird, another Hoosier legend, coach the Indiana Pacers to a 115-108 victory over the Boston Celtics.
Back home again to witness a pantheon of state hoops heroes – from the Big O, Oscar Robertson; to Big Mac, George McGinnis; to Bobby Plump to Steve Alford to Stephanie McCarty – remind us with their presence how much this game means to us all.
Back home again to hear a barbershop quartet sing – what else? – “Back Home Again in Indiana,” and give this quintessential Hoosier occasion a fitting musical sendoff.
Saturday was more than a day to open a building or begin an era.
It was a day to feel good about being a Hoosier, to take pride in it. It was a day to celebrate our basketball heritage.