INDIANAPOLIS — The most exciting season of Indianapolis Pacers basketball in recent memory kicks off Wednesday night at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
From the team off the court to the new plaza just outside Gainbridge, there are plenty of reasons to be excited about Pacers basketball this year.
Pacers fans are ready to go, too.
”I’m smiling right now, I just wanted to get some opening night vibes,” said Jeremy Comer. Comer lives downtown and was shooting hoops at the new court on the Bicentennial Unity Plaza right outside Gainbridge.
”This is Christmas for us,” said Danny Lopez, the VP of External Affairs for Pacers Sports and Entertainment.
Lopez said it’s been a while since they’ve seen this much energy around a Pacers squad. He attributed it to the likable stars on the team like PG Tyrese Haliburton and C Myles Turner.
”Those guys love the city, love the community, want to be visible, are out doing things,” Lopez said. “People are really gravitating toward the team.”
It’s not just the team on the court that’s getting fans excited, it’s what’s around it too, with the new Bicentennial Unity Plaza ready for Pacers fans as a premiere pregame destination.
”We’ll have food out here, we’ll have the concession stands open, we’ll have music, we’ll have DJs and of course all the stuff that’s out here already,” Lopez said.
The Bicentennial Unity Plaza has green space, concession stands, a full basketball court and more.
”It’ll be packed, we’re hearing from fans and they’re saying they are excited to come out here early and take advantage of this space,” Lopez said.
The plaza has been open for just more than two months now and serves as a gathering spot for people at all times during the day. Comer has already played basketball a few times at the plaza.
”It’s great,” Comer said. “It’s definitely something that’s going to bring the city back. It’s fun.”
Businesses around the plaza have already felt an impact, too. Sauce on the Side is right across Pennsylvania from Gainbridge and has patiently waited while the plaza was under construction.
”It’s just opened up a lot, people can walk around,” said Leslie Miller, a manager at Sauce on the Side. “People aren’t scared of the construction.”
All of this excitement is building up to one of the biggest events in Pacers basketball history – 2024 NBA All-Star Weekend in Indy.
”It’s defining the season,” Lopez said. “That’s exactly right, it’s what everybody is looking forward to.”
The best of the best in the NBA will converge on Indy in mid-February. The weekend will include All-Star Saturday night at Lucas Oil Stadium and then the All-Star Game at Gainbridge Field House.
All the work over the last few years has been leading up to this. Gainbridge Fieldhouse even saw more than $350 million in improvements over the last few years.
”It’s the state-of-the-art building right now in the NBA,” Lopez said. “They’ll have LEDs all over the building, gathering spaces, new bar areas, new food offerings.”
These improvements, along with the new plaza, make Indy ready to show off on the international NBA stage.
”This is a chance for us to put the city on display for the entire world,” Lopez said.
One of the last pieces of the new Bicentennial Unity Plaza that is still under construction is the restaurant and event space on the Delaware St. side. Lopez said it will be open in time for NBA All-Star Weekend in February.