PODCAST: Pacers President/COO Mel Raines on $360M in renovations to Gainbridge Fieldhouse
Mel Raines joined the Pacers in 2015 and is also the president of the host committee for Indy's All-Star Game. She details all of the upgrades.
On this episode of the Fieldhouse Files, Mel Raines, president and & chief operating officer of Pacers Sports & Entertainment, makes her first appearance on the show. We discussed the significant improvements made to and around Gainbridge Fieldhouse, what the new setup is like and what to expect.
“It’s very much a new building that people will be coming back into this fall,” she said.
“Our punch list, which anyone who has done a construction project knows that’s the tough part, is usually several thousand items when you’re doing something this big. And we expect that will take several months to finish out. But everything is done and operational in the building except the new Kroger SkyDeck that is on the west side of the balcony.”
Tuesday officially marked 500 days until Indianapolis hosts the 2024 NBA All-Star Game.
On the challenges faced with construction, labor and materials:
“We bid Phase 2 and 3 back in the fall of 2020 so everyone who has worked on the project since early 2021 had been identified and knew what the materials were so everything was ordered well in advance.
“This was probably the smoothest of the three phases, it was also the smallest scope. We were able to hit the ground running really quickly in May, as soon as the Fever were done playing, and we got about a two week head start with having everything in and pulling out seats earlier.
“In addition to the $360 million in construction, we also did $18 million in CapEx (capital expenditures) work and that is all the unsexy stuff that you never want to do at your house but you have to do — the water heaters and the HVAC system was all upgraded, all of the elevators and escalators are new.
“… We really tried to think of everyone — not just our guests coming in and sitting in the general fan sections, but what what is our artist experience, what is the media experience, what is the experience of everyone coming? We did a holistic look at the renovation because this doesn’t happen every five years. This is an every 20-to-25 year renovation.”
Total of $360 million spent on upgrades, plus another $18 million in capital expenditures on necessary upgrades.
First event back: Oct. 2, Post Malone
Team Store reopens: Oct. 3, plus a new store on the balcony level at games
Kroger SkyDeck: Targeting to open at the end of November
Bicentennial unity plaza: Projecting to be done in May 2023
Entertainment complex building: End of 2023; restaurant, speakeasy and an entertainment space just east of the plaza.
Among the items discussed on this episode:
Oct. 4, 2022 being 500 days out from the 2024 NBA All-Star Game.
Notable change at training camp and two names I hear repeatedly.
How the Pacers will treat the preseason and a few things I’ll be watching for.
Then … Mel provides a throughout update on Phase 3 of renovations. (11:30)
Dates when certain areas will be completed, including the new Kroger SkyDeck.
How the plaza could be utilized — sunrise yoga, happy hour concerts, farmers market, etc.
Her path from IU to politics to sports — and now having a significant role.