An artwork program will include 22 locations around three levels of the Bankers Life Fieldhouse, commissioning artists to tell key stories about Indiana basketball, Indianapolis, the Pacers and the Fever, and Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Topics for the various scenes will include:
INDY PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE
Indianapolis has become a dynamic international city through intentional investment and real leadership at all levels of civic, healthcare, education, business, and philanthropic life. The city has many assets that contribute to the excitement of experiencing sports and other events here.
INDY’S RISE AS THE AMATEUR SPORTS CAPITAL OF THE WORLD
Indianapolis’ development is in no small part due to its leading role as the center for all things amateur sports. Although many credit the NCAA’s relocation from Kansas City to Indy in the late 1990s as kicking it off, the story actually starts in the 1970s.
THE MILAN MIRACLE
The Milan High School basketball story from the 1950s was recounted (and dramatized) in Hoosiers. A team of boys from Milan High School in rural Indiana makes its way to the capital city to take on the big schools and bring home the title—a dream that resonates because it captures so well how many Hoosiers think about their own experiences.
CRISPUS ATTUCKS AND THE DUST BOWL
Since the 1930s, Lockefield basketball court, sitting on what is now part of the IUPUI campus, had been a gathering place for Black basketball players from near-Westside neighborhoods. The so-called “Dust Bowl” became a place where youngsters could gather, compete, and socialize, and where the neighborhood could come out to support them and watch some of the most competitive basketball around, culminating in a late-summer citywide tournament. In 1955 Ray Crowe’s Crispus Attucks team rose out of this environment to become the state’s first all-Black boys basketball championship team, led by the legendary Oscar Robertson.
INDIANA FEVER 2012 RUN
The WNBA Indiana Fever team has qualified for the postseason in 13 of its 21 seasons, including a 12-year stretch from 2005 to 2016 that ended in the playoffs each season. But what every Fever fan remembers most is the incredible run the team enjoyed on its way to the 2012 WNBA Championship. On October 21, 2012, the Fever defeated the Minnesota Lynx to win its first and only WNBA Finals in franchise history.
THE PACERS: ABA CHAMPIONS
Between 1970 and 1975, the Pacers averaged 51 wins a year, and Coach Slick Leonard and his teams brought home ABA championships in 1970, 1972, and 1973. Mel Daniels, George McGinnis, and Roger Brown are all in the Naismith Hall of Fame, and these legends, along with their incredible teammates, made the franchise one of the most successful in the ABA. The Pacers would join the NBA in 1976 as a result of the merger between the two leagues.
THE PACERS 2000 SEASON
The 1999-2000 Pacers team came within two games of the franchise’s first NBA championship. It was a talented group under a legendary coach playing out a season with considerable ups and downs and, ultimately, becoming one of the most revered teams in franchise history. Everything came together in 2000, when Reggie Miller, Jalen Rose, Mark Jackson, Dale Davis, Rick Smits, and others advanced to the very first NBA Finals in team history.
BANKERS LIFE FIELDHOUSE: SO MUCH BIGGER THAN BASKETBALL
With more than 550 events and 2 million visitors each year, Bankers Life Fieldhouse is much more than an exciting basketball arena. The Fieldhouse has hosted 22 years of concerts, programs, events, and competitions including the Harlem Globetrotters, rodeos, WWE bouts, Cirque du Soleil, Ariana Grande, Cher, Cardi B, Katy Perry, NKOTB, and Wiz Khalifa.
THE MOMENTS THAT SAVED THE PACERS
In 1977 the Indiana Pacers were struggling to recover financially following the move from the ABA to the NBA a year earlier. Slick and Nancy Leonard decided to hold a telethon, selling more than 8,000 seats to the community to raise the cash to sustain the franchise. Similarly, in 1983, brothers Melvin and Herbert Simon, successful real estate moguls and businessmen who had made Indianapolis their home, stepped in to keep the team in Indianapolis when the out-of-town owners wanted to sell it. The Pacers since have become a model franchise, with a commitment to the community and a proud working relationship with city and state government.
HALL OF FAMERS AND RETIRED NUMBERS
The Pacers and Fever are fortunate to have solid representation in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. The individuals cut across eras and include:
HOOSIER HYSTERIA - HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
In suburban driveways, city parks, and on the sides of barns in rural counties, hoops pepper the Indiana landscape and provide people with a sense of identity and pride. And while Hoosiers love their college and pro teams, nothing brings out the passion like Hoosier Hysteria – the name we use for Indiana high school basketball and the state high school tournament. For many years, single-class basketball meant the excitement of small rural schools battling those in large urban core areas. The experience has since transitioned to class basketball, but the cultural memory remains.
For more information about these artist opportunities or to apply, please visit this page.