INDIANAPOLIS — Basketball is returning to Bankers Life Fieldhouse, but you won’t find any Pacers on the court. Instead, two of college basketball’s top teams will clash right in the Circle City on December 5. It will be Baylor and Gonzaga.
“It’s a great opportunity to put Indianapolis on a national media stage in a positive light,” explains Ryan Vaughn, President of Indiana Sports Corp.
Indy will become a neutral site for the contest, but there will be no fans in attendance. While the game will provide a smaller economic impact with no spectators, there will still be players, coaches, and game staff who utilize hotels and restaurants in the city.
“I think it just shines a light on Indianapolis, and lets people know we are open for business,” details Danny Lopez, Vice President of External Affairs and Corporate Communications with Pacers Sports & Entertainment.
The game is a precursor to the season finale. Lucas Oil Stadium will serve as the site for the men’s National Championship game. Right now, Indiana Sports Corp plans to have fans at that game. This upcoming December matchup could showcase Indy as a potential site for additional games this season or even as a sports bubble.
“We believe we can,” says Vaughn, “We have been in multiple conversations with conferences, athletic directors, coaches, even the NCAA on this topic.”
While the NBA All-Star Game, which was slated to be in Indy next season, will not happen President’s Day weekend, it remains unknown if fans will be allowed at Pacers games next season.
“The league has said they are evaluating, but of course we are right in the middle of the finals,” Lopez adds, “The NBA hasn’t taken anything off the table, so I can’t speculate on that, but hopefully we will have more guidance soon.”
Organizers will be working the Marion County Health Department to ensure players, officials, and staff members remain safe. There will be COVID-19 protocols in place.