INDIANAPOLIS — Gainbridge Field House is once again rocking and rolling. The new and improved venue has the Pacers season opener Wednesday with two more games this week, not to mention Lizzo in concert Tuesday night.
The party really seems to start at the bars and restaurants surrounding Gainbridge where managers said they’ve seen a huge increase in night time crowds.
”The pop started early and it went all the way till the concert started,” said Jeff Huron, the GM at District Tap Downtown right off Georgia St.
After three years of offseason renovations, Gainbridge looks brand new nearly head to toe compared to when the work started. Post Malone was the first artist to break in the latest renovations early in October.
”Post Malone this is second concert since we’ve been open,” Huron said. “He’s drawn huge crowds both times, so it’s great to have him playing again.”
Huron said they’ll see a few hours of a packed crowd before the main event and then the crowds come right back after all the fun.
”As soon as that concert lets out you see them coming down Georgia Street in a wave and it’s time to go again till we close,” Huron said.
But now it’s time for the home team, the Pacers start the 2022-23 season at Gainbridge Field House against the Washington Wizards Wednesday night. Huron said Pacers games don’t bring a concert crowd, especially not during the week, but there will be a solid amount of people for home games. Huron sees the start of Pacers play as a strong close to the year.
”Downtown is back, it’s been back for awhile but this last quarter of this year is really going to set us back to normal and really push downtown business,” Huron said.
Crowds at Gainbridge are even incentivizing one restaurant to expand hours to catch in on the business.
Gallery Pasrty Bar right acorss Pennsylvania Ave from the field house has expanded it’s night hours on a few days till 9 p.m., instead of closing at 4 p.m.
”Our night time was like very slow, on the slower side, but now we’re seeing rushes from 5 to 7 that just don’t stop,” said Camile Zoe, a manager at Gallery Pastry Bar.
She said people usually think of the bar and restaurant as a brunch spot but they’re working to expand and let people know they can be a pre-game or pre-concert spot, too.
Zoe said they’ll even adjust hours to stay open later when Gainbridge is having a big event going on.
”There was the Lizzo concert, originally we close at 4 p.m. on Tuesday but we were open till 9 and just packed for the entire time,” she said.
What will really catch the eye of fans coming to Gainbridge is what’s going on outside. Construction on the Bicentennial Unity Plaza has come a long way since the last Pacers game. The latest renderings show off a basketball court, ice skating rink and more. Construction is set to be completed in 2023.
”Once the plaza opens I’m just expecting constant business,” Zoe said.
Huron sees it as just another reason for people outside downtown Indy to come see what’s going on.
”I think it’s going to bring people down here to check out the renovations, anything that draws people downtown is good for us and other bars and restaurants,” he said.
The Pacers tip off against the Washington Wizards at 7 p.m. Wednesday night. There are two more home games this week before the Pacers head out on its first road trip. The San Antonio Spurs are in town Friday with the Detroit Pistons on Saturday.