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Community basketball court, ice rink, public art part of new plaza coming to downtown Indy in 2023

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Posted at 11:56 AM, Mar 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-04 12:01:31-05

INDIANAPOLIS — All of the construction next to Gainbridge Fieldhouse is starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, with a projected completion date of spring 2023.

The Capital Improvement Board (CIB) and Pacers Sports & Entertainment (PS&E) released updated renderings Friday of the Bicentennial Unity Plaza currently being built in downtown Indianapolis, just north of Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

The Bicentennial Unity Plaza will be mainly under a permanent canopy system, where it will have a community basketball court that will be converted to an ice skating rink in the winter. Plus, lots of public art installations.

A 30-foot-tall, 110-foot-long art installation titled "Together" by artist Herman Mejia will be the centerpiece, spanning the width of the plaza with two arcs reaching toward each other. The sculpture will be made with mirrored alcoves, allowing for reflection.

Another Bicentennial art piece will be a 23-foot, 9-inch — matching the distance from the NBA 3-point line to the basket — dome-like installation that incorporates two kinetic screens, titled "Sphere." According to a release from the CIB, it will project live images of visitors at the plaza and other selected programming. This will also be constructed by Mejia as well.

According to the release, there will also be a large mural in partnership with the Arts Council of Indianapolis as part of the Gainbridge Fieldhouse Legends program.

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A look at the Bicentennial Unity Plaza's ice skating rink.
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A look at the Bicentennial Unity Plaza in downtown Indianapolis. This rendering includes a look at what the "Sphere" art installation will look like and more.

“Not only will Bicentennial Unity Plaza create another destination for residents and visitors to gather for entertainment, community, and conversation, it will serve as a reminder of the resiliency of our city and how, throughout our history, we have been strongest when we come together in unity," Major Joe Hogsett, D-Indianapolis, wrote in a statement. "This sculpture, in particular, will be an important visual reminder of how and why we must bridge our differences and celebrate our diversity."

According to the CIB and PS&E, 80% of programming at the plaza will be dedicated to community activities and public performances. Under the management of PS&E, the Bicentennial Unity Plaza will be a place for "diverse community programs, civic conversations, and artistic performances."

The plaza will also have public restrooms available for daytime use and when the ice rink is open. According to the CIB, it's the only plaza in Mile Square with public restrooms.

These additions to the upcoming plaza are thanks to a $28.47 million grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc.

“Bicentennial Unity Plaza represents a call to action to celebrate our history and diversity, engage each other, and collaborate on programming that brings to life our collective vision of a unified and inclusive community,” Rick Fuson, the PS&E chief executive officer, stated. “I am so grateful to Lilly Endowment and the CIB for their leadership and commitment to our city and state, and I look forward to working alongside our incredible local organizations to ensure the Plaza lives up to its name.”

WRTV Digital Reporter Shakkira Harris can be reached at shakkira.harris@wrtv.com. You can follow her on Twitter, @shakkirasays.