We Built This House: Behind the Renovations with Indiana Union Construction Industry

Feb 16 // 2021

If you have ever roamed the Main Concourse before a live event at Gainbridge Fieldhouse, you certainly have strolled through the Indiana Union Construction Industry Pavilion. Above the concessions and stairwells between Sections 13 and 18, LED’s, large signs and televisions tell the story of local Unions and Contractors’ quality work on our building dating back to when we first broke ground in the summer of 1997. That story continues today as over 1,000 skilled tradesmen, tradeswomen and contractors put in nearly 500,000 hours of hard work on Phase 1 Fieldhouse of the Future construction!



Phase 1 construction began back in February of 2020 and, while work was initially paused by COVID-19, progress was virtually unimpeded with the appropriate health & safety precautions. The project was completed on time, overseen by Pacers Sports & Entertainment’s Mel Raines (PS&E EVP Corporate Communications, Community Engagement & Facility Operations), Melody Park (Owner’s Representative) and Lori Miser (PS&E VP Engineering & Construction) closely partnered with Indiana Union Construction Industry contractors and unions.


Take a look back at what went in to Phase 1 construction, highlights from a few of our contractors & union partners and get a glimpse at what’s to come below!





During phase one of the Gainbridge Fieldhouse Expansion project, Renascent, the Operating Engineers 103 and the Laborers 120 were responsible for demolishing architectural finishes and massive structural components of interior portions of the existing arena for new and improved infrastructure and architectural finishes.  We were grateful to be a part of such a significant Hoosier project for starters. The fact that we completed the project on time—with all that the pandemic forced, with multiple changes to the scope and schedule, and the compressed time to perform the complex work—only made us prouder of a job well done. Since the structure is one of the premier venues in the nation which other cities have come to emulate made it important.  It is an iconic piece of the Hoosier pie.


Timely and detailed success is heavily dependent on the selective demolition undertaken by Renascent. To ensure client confidence, Renascent created a detailed 3D model of the existing facility to demonstrate how people, processes and equipment would go about removing the old in preparation for the new.

Our ability to demonstrate a complete understanding of the demolition scope and the method to accomplish it was a primary factor in our winning the contract work.

Rick Hall, Senior Project Manager, Renascent

For instance, the project team was able to virtually demonstrate how equipment would be used to work around and/or remove the large cast-in-place concrete beams and rakers supporting the upper seating decks. At times, slab saws were used in conjunction with a crane to pick off large cut sections. Conversely, it was advantageous to cut using hydro demolition equipment in conjunction with a demolition robot. A fleet of telehandlers, skid loaders, lifts and similar equipment have also been used.


Clarity of the demolition scope also helped better communicate and coordinate Renascent’s ability to navigate a very aggressive schedule that initially included recurring double shift work for the project duration. Because Renascent clearly understood its scope, there were only a few instances where additional night shift work was required. Benefit was still recognized even with revised schedules due to changes forced by the pandemic. To date, the project team has recycled approximately 75% of the material hauled out of the arena.




During phase one of the Gainbridge Fieldhouse Expansion project, North Mechanical Contracting and the Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 440 contributed to the renovation and expansion of several mechanical rooms, suites, office spaces, locker rooms, and other areas in the lower levels of the Gainbridge Fieldhouse. North Mechanical ,and their subcontractor, Bright Sheet Metal and the Sheet Metal Workers Local 20 were responsible for the fabrication and installation of several heating, ventilation, and cooling systems throughout the course of the project.This included running pipe and ductwork, as well as installing mechanical equipment such as air handling units, variable airflow units, and variable refrigerant flow systems. North Mechanical and Bright Sheet Metal are proud to be a part of such an important and beneficial project to both the city of Indianapolis and the Indiana Union Construction Industry.

North Mechanical is proud to be part of the Gainbridge Fieldhouse renovation project. It is such an iconic project anchoring the heart of downtown Indianapolis.” “The project required an extremely fast paced schedule with our team working multiple shifts seven days a week. The challenges brought on by the pandemic required true coordination among all partners working on the project. We know how critically important the sports hospitality market is to our community and we are proud to be part of this growth.

Rod Foley, President of North Mechanical Contracting Service and Bright Sheet Metal




ERMCO and the tradesmen and women of IBEW 481 are providing systems services for the Gainbridge Fieldhouse Renovation. This includes structured cabling, access control, CCTV, broadcast cabling, audio visual, sound and network upgrades.

This is an important project for ERMCO because it’s a direct connection to our Indianapolis community. The Fieldhouse is a popular destination where we have all enjoyed many games and events. ERMCO has been connected to the Fieldhouse from the very beginning. We provided services for the original construction in 1999, for the Ascension St. Vincent Center / Practice Facility in 2017 and for many renovations and upgrades along the way. Now, we get to be part of this major renovation. It’s exciting to know we’re helping create an even better experience for the fans.

The Gainbridge Fieldhouse project started in 2020 and due to the pandemic, there were new challenges and restrictions to how we are able to work. ERMCO rose to the challenge, our team adapted while staying focused on the end goal; and we’ve been able to successfully meet all project goals within the scheduled timeline.

Cain Grocox, RCDD, RTPM, Account Executive, ERMCO



I-Star Energy Solutions installed thermal mechanical insulation for the HVAC systems and associated piping systems for all of Phase 1 of the BLF project. We are a strong union contracting company utilizing Local 18 of The International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers to complete this work. We installed approximately 69,000 square feet of insulation on duct work and 12,500 effective lineal feet of insulation on the HVAC piping systems.

A well-insulated mechanical system can not only help control energy costs but provide a greater comfort factor for the building. I-Star Energy Solutions relies on the skills, commitments and efforts of our safe work force to provide a quality finished project that performs day in and day out for years as it should.

Mike Gantz, Branch Manager of I-Star Energy Solutions Indianapolis Office




J.C. Ripberger Construction Corporation is a full-service General Contractor. Founded over 62 years ago in Zionsville, Indiana, our strategic focus has and continues to be new construction and renovations within the commercial, educational, health care and industrial sectors. We were proud to be the general trades package partner on the Gainbridge Fieldhouse Phase 1 Renovation.  

We worked in partnership with the tradesmen and women of the Indiana Kentucky Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters, Laborers 120 and the Plasterers and Cement Masons 692 to install doors, frames, hardware, wood blocking toilet partitions and accessories, corner guards and all concrete work.   This project was important to J.C. Ripberger because it was an opportunity to work in tandem with many of our construction industry partners on a project in the heart of downtown Indianapolis.    Members of our firm have enjoyed games with our families at Gainbridge Fieldhouse over the years and look forward to the new experience the renovation will bring all fans.   

JC Ripberger Construction Corporation was proud to be a partner in the renovation of Gainbridge Fieldhouse. This project was unique because of the challenges brought on by the pandemic. However, the committment to delivering a quality and safe project exhibited by our team and the facilities management team at Bankers Life ensured our success.

Rich Montague, Vice President Project Management, JC Ripberger