Fieldhouse plans for more fans to return amid pandemic


Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis is always a busy place in March.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be plenty of basketball games. In addition to Indiana Pacers games, the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament and NCAA men’s basketball tournament will be held in the Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The IHSAA boys basketball state finals will be played there April 3.

The Indiana Dept. of Health is allowing 25 percent of capacity of 4,500, but the Indiana Pacers haven’t yet allowed that many. The capacity cap for the NCAA Tournament is 25 percent as well.

“We were allowed about 1,000 when we started having fans in January,” said Carmel resident Danny Lopez, Pacers Sports & Entertainment vice president of external relations and corporate communications. “We’re gradually allowing more and up to about 1,500 to 2,000. The approach we’ve taken is crawl, walk, run. We’re going slow. Even with vaccines and the (COVID-19) numbers going down, people are still worried about being at a place with a lot of people. We’re trying to gradually ramp that up in a responsible way.”

Lopez said one change is, the Fieldhouse has become a cashless facility. It’s a big issue for older people who are used to paying with cash.

“We have cash-to-cards machines around the concourse, so it’s pretty easy to cash in, and it spits out a debit card,” Lopez said. “It’s a debit card with no fees. It can be used in the arena and anywhere outside.”

Keeping the security process running smoothly is another key.

“The key things people have to be mindful of is the security is all about moving through quickly and efficiently,” Lopez said. “When you have backups with security, that’s a way you see a more difficult situation from the COVID perspective. We want to avoid people bunching up. Assuring they have the right bag size is a big thing. It’s essentially a small purse or clutch.”

Bags go through X-rays machines. All the tickets are mobile.

All food is individually packaged and there no more soda refills. Fans must wear face masks except when eating and drinking, which is only permitted in seats, Lopez said.

Pacers ticket holders follow an email link for health screening before the game.

“We want to encourage fans to open up their emails from us once they purchase tickets,” Lopez said.

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