Market Square Arena

Market Square Arena

Market Square Arena
Market Square Arena in 1982
Market Square Arena in 1982
Location 300 East Market Street
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204
Owner City of Indianapolis
Operator City of Indianapolis
Capacity Basketball: 16,530
Ice hockey: 15,993
Surface Multi-surface
Broke ground October 20, 1971
Opened September 15, 1974
Renovated 1995
Closed October 24, 1999
Demolished July 8, 2001
Construction cost $23 million
($110 million in 2016 dollars[1])
Architect Architects 4 (A Joint Venture):
Kennedy, Brown & Associates
Fleck, Burkart, Shropshire, Boots, Reid & Associates
McGuire & Shook Corportation[2]
Structural engineer J. Robert Carlton & Associates Inc.[2]
General contractor Huber, Hunt & Nichols
Indiana Pacers (NBA) (1974–1999)
Indianapolis Checkers (IHL) (1985–1987)
Indianapolis Ice (IHL) (1988–1999)
Indiana Twisters (CISL) (1996–1997)
Indianapolis Racers (WHA) (1974–1978)
1980 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament

Market Square Arena was an indoor arena located in Indianapolis, Indiana. Completed in 1974, at a cost of $23 million, it seated 16,530 for basketball and 15,993 for ice hockey. Seating capacity for concerts and other events was adjusted by the use of large curtains which sealed off the upper rows.


  • History 1
    • Capacity 1.1
    • Demolition 1.2
  • Notable events 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


In the late 1960s, the city of Indianapolis studied several market areas of the city for future development and revitalization. Students from the fourth-year design studio class at Ball State University College of Architecture and Planning met with the City of Indianapolis to review and select 20–26 projects for consideration. Students Joseph Mynhier and Terry Pastorino selected downtown Indianapolis as their market and designed what would eventually become Market Square Arena. The design envisioned by Mynhier and Pastorino was later selected and used as a promotional tool by the City of Indianapolis for construction of the stadium. Four architectural firms were selected by the city to complete the arena design with two representatives from each of the four companies. Terry Pastorino, who had worked for Kennedy, Brown & Trueblood, Inc., during the summer of 1970 on the project, later joined the firm working on the arena.

The original student design included a four-story office building covering two city blocks. The Market Square Arena as constructed consisted of a unique space frame design spanning Market Street. The playing floor was elevated over Market Street by parking garages on either side of Market Street. Market Street terminated at Market Square Arena to the east and to the west by the capitol building. The final design eventually took up one city block spanning Market Street.

Market Square Arena's original center-hung scoreboard was an American Sign and Indicator scoreboard similar to those which would be installed at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum and Joe Louis Arena. Its replacement, a center-hung White Way Sign scoreboard with a color matrix screen on each side (the AS&I scoreboard had monochrome matrix screens), was installed in time for the 1985 NBA All-Star Game and remained at the arena for the rest of its life, where it would later be complimented by front-projection video screens on each end of the arena (complete with RCA projectors).

In 1987, Indianapolis hosted the Pan American Games and the basketball event was held at Market Square.

Market Square Arena was best known as the home of the Indiana Pacers of the American Basketball Association and National Basketball Association from 1974 to 1999. The first Pacers basketball game ever held in the arena was a preseason game against the Milwaukee Bucks; attendance was 16,929. The first regular-season ABA game in the arena was held on October 18, 1974, against the San Antonio Spurs; the Pacers lost in double overtime, 129–121 in front of 7,473 fans. The first Pacers victory in Market Square Arena came on October 23 with a 122–107 win over the Spirits of St. Louis. The 1974–75 season ended for the Pacers with the ABA Finals played in Market Square Arena and Freedom Hall against their archrivals, the Kentucky Colonels. The Colonels defeated the Pacers in that championship series, winning the ABA title in five games (4 wins to 1). The 1975–76 Pacers won their final home ABA game in Market Square Arena with a 109–95 victory against the Colonels. (Kentucky won the next game by one point to win the series and advance, ending the Pacers' ABA tenure.) The Pacers continued to play in Market Square Arena after they joined the NBA. Michael Jordan's return to the Chicago Bulls after his first retirement took place at Market Square Arena in a loss to the Pacers on March 19, 1995.[3] The final Pacers game to be played in Market Square Arena was a pre-season exhibition game against the Utah Jazz on October 23, 1999.

Market Square Arena in 1990

The arena also hosted the 1980 NCAA men's basketball Final Four & the Midwestern Collegiate Conference (now Horizon League) men's basketball conference tournament from 1986 to 1988 and again in 1993.

The gold-medal match of the 1987 Pan American Games in Indianapolis pitted Brazil against the United States. The U.S. team of college players featured two All-Americans in David Robinson and Danny Manning, two Final Four MVPs in Pervis Ellison and Keith Smart, and several other future NBA players. The U.S. team led 68–54 at halftime, but Oscar Schmidt led Brazil to a stunning comeback, finishing with 46 points as Brazil won 120–115.

Market Square Arena was the primary concert venue for virtually all national and international musical acts visiting Indiana until its demolition in 2001. While many concerts moved to the Deer Creek Music Center amphitheatre during summer months after that venue opened in 1989, Market Square remained the primary concert venue for large acts visiting the city of Indianapolis. Market Square hosted acts from Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra to Kenny Rogers, Cheap Trick, KISS, and several Black Expo performances.

Other events held at Market Square included circuses, Ice Capades, monster truck shows, indoor motocross racing, rodeos, etc.

Market Square Arena was also the home of the Indianapolis Racers of the WHA from 1974 to 1979. 17-year-old Wayne Gretzky starred for the Racers in his first professional action before being traded to the Edmonton Oilers after a handful of games.


Seating capacity for basketball:

  • 17,000 (1974–1982)
  • 17,096 (1982–1985)
  • 16,912 (1985–1991)
  • 16,530 (1991–1999)

Seating capacity for hockey:

  • 15,993 (1974–1999)


The Pacers moved to the new Conseco Fieldhouse, since renamed the Bankers Life Fieldhouse, for the 1999–2000 NBA season, and Market Square Arena was demolished on July 8, 2001, in a multi million-dollar implosion.[4] It only took 12 seconds to completely demolish the arena.

Prior to the demolition, the basketball court surface was removed. It is now housed at the National Institute for Fitness and Sport (NIFS) in White River State Park.[5]

The site of the former arena is a parking lot as of March 2009 and plans are being made for apartments or a parking garage. The parking lot holds a memorial to Elvis Presley, who played his final concert there on June 26, 1977. The memorial was designed and built by Alan Clough.

Notable events

The first event held at the arena was a Glen Campbell concert on September 15, 1974.[6]

Elvis Presley performed his final live concert here on June 26, 1977, seven weeks before his death. 17,000 persons attended his last concert.

Billy Graham's 1980 Indiana Crusade, featuring a young Bill Gaither as one of the musical guests, was the most attended event at the arena in its history.

Mötley Crüe filmed their music video for "Wild Side" here on July 18, 1987, which contains footage of drummer Tommy Lee's spinning drum cage.

Andre The Giant won the WWF Heavyweight Championship, ending Hulk Hogan's first reign. This was televised live on NBC's The Main Event on February 5, 1988.

Michael Jackson performed two consecutive sold–out shows at Market Square Arena, during his Bad World Tour on March 18–19, 1988.

KISS' show on November 28, 1992, was recorded and released as a live album, entitled Alive III.


  1. ^ Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  2. ^ a b [2]
  3. ^ "Basketball photograph" (JPG). Retrieved 2015-05-09. 
  4. ^ Sword, Doug (July 8, 2001). "Much Relief, Very Little Damage as Implosion Goes Like Clockwork".  
  5. ^ "Fitness Center Facilities". NIFS website. Retrieved 21 August 2013. 
  6. ^ "Market Square Arena - Indianapolis, Indiana - Ballparks, Arenas and Stadiums - Powered by Phanfare". Retrieved 2015-05-09. 

External links

  • Video of MSA's demolition – Video Collection of the demolition by The Indianapolis Star
  • Lost Indiana profile of Market Square Arena