March usually is a busy month for most people and businesses. For virtually anyone associated with Bankers Life Fieldhouse, you can multiply that busyness about 100 times.
According to Kevin Messenger, director of media relations for the Indiana Fever, a 6-week period that began on Feb. 24 with the Pacers 108-105 win over the New York Knicks, will feature 15 championship basketball games at the youth, high school and collegiate level, with 11 more Pacers games one tap — as well as two concerts.
“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,” says a news release issued by Messenger, adding that more than 70 different teams and 800 youth, high school, college and pro athletes will compete inside The Fieldhouse.
Officials expect more than 400,000 fans to attend the various events that will take place in “the 16-year-old facility that USA Today once called ‘A Cathedral to Basketball.’ ”
A 2-week span will see 26 games played in the Big Ten men’s and women’s tournaments, the IHSAA girls and boys state championships, and two youth-league city championship contests.
Those games include the women’s NCAA Final Four, the semifinals on Sunday, April 3, and the championship game on Tuesday, April 5.
“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 release says.
“The month-and-a-half hoops marathon culminates with three national championship games as part of the 2016 NCAA Women’s Final Four — and a Pacers game 24 hours later against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers (April 6).”
All but the two youth city championship games will be televised, with Bankers Life Fieldhouse being showcased to “regional or national TV audiences with 53 exposures between CBS, ESPN, ESPN2, Big Ten Network and FOX Sports Indiana.”
The release says members of The Fieldhouse staff will change the playing floor 16 times in 43 days. That includes five straight days of transitioning from the Pacers-Toronto Raptors game to a concert, to the Pacers-New Orleans Pelicans game, to the IHSAA boys basketball championships, to the Pacers-Houston Rockets game, to the Big Ten Tournament.
“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,” says the release.
The concerts are: ‘Winter Jam 2016 Tour Spectacular’ on Friday, March 18, and Barry Manilow on Wednesday, March 30.
There will be a 2-day period with no games scheduled and no setup or changing of the floor required. But the Fieldhouse will still be buzzing with activity.
On March 22, the Fever will host a Legacy Luncheon honoring 9-time WNBA All-Star and 3-time Olympic gold medal winner Tamika Catchings. The luncheon will be held in the Entry Pavilion with over 400 guests expected to attend.
“Bankers Life Fieldhouse,” the release concluded, “is a very busy house of championships and champions.”
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