So why do Lisa and I make periodic trips to Indianapolis to watch the NBA's Indiana Pacers play basketball? This post will answer that burning question. Our twice-a-season pilgrimages began in April, 2002 shortly after we started dating, when Lisa expressed an interest in attending an NBA game. Cavs fan that I am, I thought it would be a fun change-of-pace to check out the Pacers who had made the playoffs that season and were hosting the New Jersey Nets with their all-pro guard Jason Kidd in the first game of that series. We witnessed a tense gripping affair with the Nets finally prevailing only after Pacers' great Reggie Miller misfired on his buzzer-beater. Despite the result, we got so caught up rooting for the Pacers that night you would have thought we were life long fans of the team. And that is just what we became. But following the Pacers is not the only reason we kept coming back to Indy. The vibrant downtown area near Conseco Fieldhouse where the Pacers play is chock full of restaurants, great bars, nightclubs and hotels and a wonderful vibe that unexpectedly make Indy the perfect place for an overnight getaway.
So last Friday night, March 20th, we made the less than three hour journey west on I-70 from Columbus to Indy. We arrived just past 6 PM. In less than an hour we were able to check into our favorite Indy lodging - the small Canterbury Hotel, freshen up in our elegant junior suite, eat a fine dining steak dinner at St. Elmo's Steakhouse located next door to the Canterbury, and still easily make the 7 PM tip-off for the Pacers- Dallas Mavericks match-up at Conseco, a five minute walk from the restaurant.
One reason we were able to move with such dispatch is the nifty drive-up-on-the-city-sidewalk entrance to the Canterbury which is shown in the picture below with Lisa in the foreground.
Another reason we favor the Canterbury is its very comfortable bar just off the lobby. With its fine leather and old oak paneling, it has the look and feel of a very fine English club's bar - except more accessible.
And here I am in front of St. Elmo's in rabid Pacer attire.
The primary reason we were able to make the tip-off was the exceptional service we received from Mark, a six year veteran of St.Elmo's wait staff. Our filets were perfect and so was the wine. Mark is a fellow Pacer fan who shared his disappointment with the team's losing record this year. Beset by injuries to key players, the Pacers have been on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoff picture. Still, Mark opined that a winning streak could still lift the team into the playoffs in the east which is a relatively weak conference outside of Cleveland, Boston, and Orlando.
St Elmo's also has a fabulous bar.
Conseco Fieldhouse has all the amenities you would expect in a new arena, but it has architectural features and an ambience which are reminiscent of old style fieldhouses. This evocation of the past is enhanced by the homage that is shown in various displays to the Pacers' and the state of Indiana's basketball history.
Lisa sports a hip Reggie Miller retro jersey while I am relegated to a Peja Stojakovic jersey which I purchased cheap at the Pacers' store after he was traded from the Pacers.
The "Pacemates" and Bowser the mascot fire up the crowd.
The scoreboard tells the story.
After the game we went to our favorite Indy nightspot, the Slippery Noodle. It is the oldest continually operating bar in Indiana dating from 1850. It features two rooms of music (generally the blues which Lisa and I both love) The headliners generally play in the backroom which also has room for dancing.
We could have hit many more places after the Noodle, but we were all in and retired to the Canterbury. To our friends: some day you will believe us when we tell you (as we have many times) just how great Indy is!