The Indiana Pacers will be staying in Indianapolis for at least another decade.
According to the Indianapolis Star's Tony Cook, the team has agreed to a deal with the city government, locking them into a 10-year arrangement to keep them in Bankers Life Fieldhouse through the 2023-24 basketball season, and possibly through the end of the 2026-27 season.
In exchange for the Pacers' commitment to the arena, the city will provide $160 million to cover operating costs and facility upgrades.
Bankers Life Fieldhouse opened in 1999, replacing venerable old Market Square Arena. It was originally named Conseco Fieldhouse, but the name was changed when the company that owned the naming rights changed names.
The Pacers made their first and only NBA Finals during their first season in the new building. If they hold onto the No. 1 overall seed, the Pacers could open three playoff series at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The arena is also home to the WNBA Indiana Fever and hosts college basketball games, ice hockey games and concerts. It currently hosts the annual Big Ten conference tournaments.
Supporters of the deal include Indianapolis mayor Greg Ballard, who claimed that keeping the Pacers in Bankers Life Fieldhouse will further the city's economic development, per Cook:
The Indiana Pacers and Indiana Fever attract hundreds of thousands of people to Indy on an annual basis. Many Downtown workers and businesses rely on those fans for their income. Amenities like professional sports, art and museums make our community a more vibrant and attractive place to live and do business.
Of course, every stadium and arena deal will always have its fair share of critics. Cook claims that, while there is nothing particularly out of the ordinary in this agreement, some believe the city cannot afford it in this current economic climate:
The new deal appears to be more costly for the city than the current agreement with the team, though sports business experts say it's in line with similar arrangements in other cities. Supporters say it ensures a continued economic impact and vibrancy for Downtown. Critics question whether the financial burden is too great for a city that struggles to fund police and pothole repairs.
But those opponents will be overruled, and the Pacers will continue to play at the arena that has been their home for the past 15 seasons. There is a promising young team in Indiana, and if the Pacers win an NBA championship over the next few seasons, they will be celebrating that title in Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
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