Bankers Life Fieldhouse (map it)
125 S Pennsylvania St
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Year Opened: 1999
There are no tickets available at this time.
Official Review by Scott Bultman, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Bankers Life Fieldhouse is located in downtown Indianapolis and hosts plenty of big time basketball events including the Indiana Pacers, high school basketball games, and the occasional college basketball tournament. Indianapolis played host to both the men’s and women’s Big 10 conference tournaments in 2016. It will host the men’s tournament again in 2020 and 2022. It is the host of the women’s tournament through 2022.
Bankers Life Fieldhouse opened in 1999 and is best suited as a basketball arena, although it hosts many other events throughout the year. One lap around each concourse and you will see why it is the ultimate basketball arena.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
There are plenty of food and beverage options at the Fieldhouse. Hardee's and Donatos pizza are two chain options that fans will recognize. There are other standard fare options to choose from around the stadium such as hot dogs, bbq, burgers, chicken tenders, etc. The bbq brisket nachos are quite tasty. Do not make the same mistake I did though and ask for everything. They put way too much salsa and sour cream on it rendering the bbq taste hidden.
There are some stands that aren't normally seen for Pacers games or other events at the arena open on the lower concourse. One is a loaded baked potato stand. This is a great idea in theory. The problem is the toppings sit out for a while rather than behind the counter. The toppings look good, but may be a little stale or messy if ordered between games. Most loaded baked potato stands have things behind the counter and they are made to order. A positive is you can create your own since you are serving yourself.
Another stand unique to the tournament is a hot dog cart. It has themes for the major cities in the Big 10 region. At $6 dollars a hot dog, it may be a tad pricey but there are a lot of options to choose from. Other carts include a soda stand and candy/nuts stand.
One thing to remember, NCAA tournaments prohibit the sale of alcohol. Fans wanting a beer before or between sessions will have to choose from the many restaurants and bars outside the arena.
As fans walk towards the arena, it is clear that they are here for a big time event. The street signs have temporary plates with slogans such as Badgers Place and Boilermaker Way. Fans walking past monument circle will be greeted by a giant block Big Ten logo. It's a good spot to take a group photo.
Outside the arena, there are merchandise stands and more photo opportunities. Once you enter the lobby, you are greeted with more Big Ten themes and banners. The Pacers banners are not visible at all and you think that this arena is solely there for Big Ten purposes only. That is how well this event is produced.
The Art Deco feel of the 1930s is evident from the old fashioned ticket windows to the painted advertisements on the brick walls throughout the building. You will also find artifacts and posters of Indiana Pacers, high school and former professional teams throughout the arena located in glass cases inside the area. A sense of pride and accomplishment is evident inside the Fieldhouse. It is an atmosphere that is almost unmatched in any other basketball arena in the country. Any fan of basketball would be missing out if they didn't get here early and take their time looking at all these artifacts.
Once inside the seating bowl, the atmosphere is that of a typical basketball tournament. Fans of teams make the tournament. Your typical underdog loving crowd is here, but fans of their schools really bring the passion. A Wednesday or Thursday session (1st round and 2nd round games) can be drab on both the men's and women's side. Friday-Sunday (quarterfinals, semi-finals, and championship game) however are big time.
When you are located in the heart of downtown, you are usually in prime real estate, and this is the case for the home of the Pacers. A fan can park their car a few hours before the game, shop at Circle City Mall, eat at numerous local and national chain restaurants (St. Elmo's, Kilroy's, Champp's, Steak and Shake, Rock Bottom, Oceanaire Seafood Room and a host of others), watch the game, and then head out for either drinking, dancing, or music at one of the dozens of bars and clubs without having to take a taxi.
All Big Ten teams represented have restaurants assigned for the tournament, which makes it nice for fans of their school. Many alumni groups will have things set up in their restaurants to make their fans feel at home. Champps is usually home to Ohio State and they will have their pep band/cheerleaders in attendance as well as campus newspapers accessible for fans that may be homesick. Maryland had Buffalo Wild Wings as a designated hangout spot. It may seem cliché to have a chain host until you go inside and see Maryland gear everywhere. They had a salad and chips/cheese spread out which fans could help themselves to while mingling with fellow Terps fans.
The downtown area is safe, usually full of revelers walking the streets and well lighted and sparkling clean. If you are interested in staying downtown, there are few brand hotels within walking distance of the arena.
It has been said many times that Indy is a perfect big game host, and this is absolutely true. Plenty of hotels and restaurants are within walking distance.
This is an event where the fans of their schools make or break an event. Wednesday and Thursday sessions for the men and women are hit or miss. Friday and Saturday are great as fans get a mock NCAA tournament feel. No matter who is playing, fans love multiple meaningful games in one day. Sunday can be hit or miss depending on who is playing. On the men's side in 2016, Indy lucked out with a Purdue-Michigan State matchup. Purdue is an hour north of downtown Indy and Michigan State travels well.
The arena is easily accessible from the major interstates of 70, 65, and 465 with parking abundant throughout the downtown vicinity. After the game, exiting these facilities takes a little knowhow of the one way streets of Indianapolis, but signs are posted that direct spectators to their desired route back home. Traffic moves smoothly during this time as well, as there are officers who are stationed to keep cars moving.
Check out Parking Panda for some of the best parking options for the game. Use the promo code STADIUMJOURNEY10 for 10% off your first transaction.
One great perk for the women's tournament, seating is general admission. We had seats two rows behind Michigan State's bench and loved the view of the court. One thing of note, seating is not a free for all in the designated sections of each team. Each team has a designated block of seats behind the team's benches and a wristband is needed to sit there. The ushers watch this closely. If you don't have a wristband, do what we did and sit in the next section over. The view is the same and the ushers won't bother you.
Full session tickets start at $75 for the women's tournament and $200 for the men's side. When you consider the fact that 13 games can be had for those prices, it is a steal. If you break it up and buy a ticket for a certain session, ticket prices can seem excessive. Be sure to check the secondary market as deals can be had depending on who moves on. Also, you may be able to find tickets from fans of teams after an upset occurs. They may have had plans for several more games, but lose interest after their team is eliminated. If you simply want a taste of the tourney, tickets for a Wednesday or Thursday session can be had for next to nothing.
The seats in the upper deck can be a little steep, but they do provide a great view of the court and play. The lower bowl offers your typical close up action that can be found throughout other similar arenas in North America.
Bonus points are awarded for the Indiana basketball history displayed around the concourse. Another bonus point is awarded for the neighborhood surrounding Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Fans can find many options for food and drink without leaving the neighborhood surrounding the stadium. Another bonus point is awarded for how well the city takes to both the men's and women's tournament.
Indianapolis is the perfect host for a basketball tournament. Bankers Life Fieldhouse is a world class basketball facility and the proximity of things to do nearby are great for fans.
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127 S Illinois St
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