Conseco Fieldhouse: A Review by Stadium Journey

Paul Swaney@@PaulSwaneySenior Analyst INovember 16, 2009

Article originally published on Stadium Journey

Located in the heart of Indianapolis, Conseco Fieldhouse is a great example of what a great NBA arena can look like. 

Fan comfort, great sight lines, and a respect for team history are all major factors in making for an enjoyable basketball experience.

FANFARE Score: 32

F ood & Beverage: 4

The most disappointing aspect of the Food & Beverage offered at Conseco is the long lines that fans experience, especially in the upper sections of the fieldhouse. 

I took a walk around the arena with about 8 minutes to go in the second quarter and lines were as long as 30 people deep.  With 31 concessions stands, this has to be chalked up to poor management of staffing needs.

Once you make it to the front of the line, there will be plenty of appetizing options.  Sausages by Johnsonville, and Donato’s pizza are favorites.  There are also several restaurant options so fans can choose to arrive early for a game some dinner.

A tmosphere: 5

Conseco Fieldhouse effortlessly melds an old feel with modern amenities.  It looks as if it is part of the neighborhood, yet from inside it seems massive.  It begins with the main entryway, an expansive rotunda which can be accessed without a ticket. 

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In fact, it’s another place where the Pacers may be understaffed.  The multiple lines for Will Call all had significant lines, so come early if you’re getting your tickets at the arena.

Once you reach your seat, you’ll find that every seat has a padded bottom, without being overly cushy, it’s a very comfortable place to park yourself. 

From your seat, you have a great view of the court regardless our where you sit.  I sat behind the basket, in a corner section about five rows from the top, and still felt as though I could see the action clearly.

When walking around the concourses, you’ll see an homage not only to Pacers history, but to the history of basketball in the state of Indiana, including very proud tribute to the ABA championships won by the Pacers in the early 70’s. 

N eighborhood: 5

There are so many options within the immediate neighborhood, that you could have season tickets, and try a new place every game, and still not taste it all.  For carnivores there are three outstanding options. 

The all-you-can-eat, Fogo De Chao is a fine option, even if all you want is the salad bar.  Morton’s Steakhouse, and the slightly more upscale Mo’s are great, but you probably need to be a bit more well-dressed to be comfortable.

As far as bars go, I can highly recommend Scotty’s both for its beer list, and for its voluminous menu, including bison burgers, and beef raised in Indiana. 

On this particular mid-November evening, it was unseasonably warm so I was able to sit outside and listen to the blues band they had lined up for the night.

There’s plenty of screens inside, so with good beer, food, sports, and service, this is a prime place for either before or after Pacers games.

Across the street is Coaches, which bolsters that they have the best burger in the city.  While I admit that their burgers are very good (try the All-Star burger with bacon and BBQ sauce) the service is so bad that I would never set foot in there again. 

I’m a fairly tolerant customer, but when it takes 25 minutes for someone to take my order, then something’s wrong.  The place was only half full, so I have to assume that this is a management issue.

Next door is O’Reilly’s, a typical Irish pub.  There’s nothing outstanding to recommend other that solid work by their bartender, but it certainly could be a place to drop in for a drink or two.

F ans: 5

In my experience, NBA fans are notoriously reliant on cues to know when to cheer, or whatever else the puppeteer working the jumbotron would like to see.  Pacers fans were a pleasant exception to this rule. 

Not that there aren’t successful attempts at decibel manipulation, because there certainly is, but as a whole the crowd was loud and energetic without needing the constant prodding.  This makes for a much better viewing experience, with less frenetic interjections.

A ccess: 5

Parking is a breeze in the area. I parked a couple blocks north at 35 North Pennsylvania, at a cost of only $3.  In the lot adjacent to Conseco, spaces were going for $10, which still is a pretty good bargain.

With highways nearby, it was absolutely easy to get out of the downtown area after the game.

R eturn on Investment: 4

Tickets can be found starting at $20, and there are several souvenir options that are fairly priced.  Food is priced right about where you would expect, and pricing is a bargain.  Overall, the Conseco Fieldhouse experience is well worth it for what you pay.

E tc.: 4

The retro modern feel is unique for an NBA venue.  The basketball history lesson found throughout the concourses is worth an extra point in my book, as do the fantastic seats, and wonderful neighborhood.

Final Thoughts:

It’s hard to imagine a much more complete arena experience than what one can find in downtown Indianapolis.  

Paul Swaney is the Co-Founder of Stadium Journey

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