Increased security at Bankers Life Fieldhouse days after Boston Marathon blasts

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The explosions in Boston is leading to security changes at major events around the country, including here in Indianapolis. Staff at Bankers Life Fieldhouse increased police presence Wednesday night during the first Pacers home game since the terrorist attack.

It was the last Pacers game before the play-offs and Fan Appreciation Night at the Fieldhouse. With a big crowd just days after the Boston Marathon blasts, security was putting on the full court press.

“The spirit’s up because it’s the last game of the season. Everybody’s getting hyped,” said J.C. Williams, a Pacers fan. “They pulled me to the side today and checked me too. I had to show my cell phone, empty my pockets, but it’s a normal routine.”

Gates opened 30 minutes earlier to allow staff more time to check bags and scan fans. Police presence was everywhere — from sheriff’s deputies to K-9 units on the look-out for anything suspicious.

“Anytime you bring 18, 19,000 people together in one place, there’s always that concern,” said Greg Schenkel, Pacers Vice President of Corporate, Community and Public Relations. “We want everybody to know their safety is first and foremost.”

It’s a concern that even has staff replacing their outdoor trash cans with explosion-proof ones approved by Homeland Security. The team said while there is no direct threat, they want to keep fans at ease.

“We came about 15 minutes later than what we planned on, but the flow came in and we’re just a few steps ahead,” said Amber Brumley, a Pacers fan. “We’d rather come, let the kids be safe and plan ahead than to worry about something happening.”

Staff said they will be constantly changing their safety procedures throughout the play-offs, if they need to.

“They got to keep a heightened emergency you got to,” said Williams. “[You] can’t stop everything from happening but you can do your best.”