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Bicentennial Unity Plaza opens in Downtown Indianapolis

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More than 300 people were in attendance for the ribbon cutting of Gainbridge Fieldhouse’s latest expansion, the Bicentennial Unity Plaza, on the morning of Aug. 24. Hoosiers, community members, stakeholders and partners were all in attendance to experience the tip-off of the new plaza.

The ceremony began in the foyer of the recently renovated Gainbridge Fieldhouse, located Downtown on Pennsylvania Street. Eventgoers were welcomed with donuts and macaroons, courtesy of Jack’s Donuts. Additionally, the event supplied coffees and lattes with the help of Tinker Street Coffee.

Gov. Eric Holcomb highlighted the amazing work and collaboration necessary to bring the project to fruition. “[The Bicentennial Unity Plaza] is symbolic of who we are and where we come from,” Holcomb said.

Following Holcomb’s remarks, Mayor of Indianapolis Joe Hogsett commenced his speech to the few hundred attendees with a wisecrack, hinting at the state of the Bicentennial Unity Plaza before the project began.

“This used to be an ugly parking garage,” Hogsett said.

He also recalled a conversation he had with the real estate magnate and owner of the Indiana Pacers and Indiana Fever, Herbert “Herb” Simon.

“Herb said to me, ‘If we are gonna do this Joe, we are gonna do this the right way, the Indianapolis way,” Hogsett recalled.

Hogsett concluded his speech with a pledge: “We are making this area a more attractive area for all, whether you work here or live here. And believe me, there is much more on the way.”

Following was the Vice President of Community Development at the Lilly Endowment Ronnie Kloth echoed Hogsett’s sentiments regarding the plaza’s communal value.

“The endowment has a long history of improving the quality of life for all,” Kloth said. “We are excited to see this project come to fruition and are excited to see how [everyone] interacts with the Bicentennial Unity Plaza.”

More on the Bicentennial Unity Plaza Grand Opening

Bicentennial Unity Plaza; Gainbridge Fieldhouse; Aug. 24; Downtown Indianapolis
An immense crowd during the Bicentennial Unity Plaza Grand Opening Tip-off at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, IN on Aug. 24, 2023. (Photo/Noral Parham III)

Many additional Indiana community stakeholders arrived to support the ribbon cutting of the Bicentennial Unity Plaza, such as Indiana Fever General Manager Lin Dunn, Basketball Hall of Famer and Indianapolis business owner Tamika Catchings, Center for Leadership (CLD) President Dennis Bland, and many others.

Additionally, mascots Freddy Fever and Boomer were in attendance for the event.

Artist Herman Mejia, the creative vision behind the Bicentennial Unity Plaza, shared insight on his concept for the plaza and how it came to life.

“The sphere represents Indiana’s love for basketball,” Mejia said. “Each piece tells a good story of unity and harmony.”

Basketball fans rally behind Pacers Superfan in the new Bicentennial Unity Plaza, envisioned by artist Herman Mejia, on Aug. 24, 2023. (Photo/Noral Parham III)

President of the Indianapolis City-Council Samuel “Vop”  Osili endowed the crowd with words of encouragement, engagement and equity, emphasizing Meija’s vision.

“This is a place for art lovers, foodies, and sports fans can all enjoy, where everyone is welcomed, no tickets required,” Osili said while jokingly looking toward the president of Pacers Sports and Entertainment Rick Fuson.

Osili also said that the Bicentennial Unity Plaza is where art and basketball in Indiana “work in harmony.”

Moreover, the event ceremonies concluded with the ribbon cutting. Attendees were ushered outside on the north end of Gainbridge Fieldhouse toward the new Bicentennial Unity Plaza. The cutting required upward of twenty people (and twenty pairs of ceremonial scissors).

Finally, the Bicentennial Unity Plaza is now officially open to the public. The plaza opens with a slew of free, family fun events for the weekend of Aug. 25-27.

Contact multi-media staff writer Noral Parham III at 317-762-7846 or via email at noralp@indyrecorder.com. Follow him on Twitter @NoralParham. For more sports and local news from Noral, click here.

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