hen the Conseco Fieldhouse planned its grand opening celebration in November, the last thing planners wanted to see were signs that did not please the facility sponsors. The $212 million arena had been promoted as the eye-popping new home of the Indiana Pacers men’s professional basketball team, as well as Indiana’s new WNBA franchise, its minor league hockey team, concerts, and other arena events.

They had chosen another Hoosier company, South Bend-based Burkhart Advertising, to provide not only state-of-the-art signage, but also a dramatic layout and state of the industry fabrication for the 18,800 seat Conseco project, a job that took a year and a half. In the end, Burkhart provided exactly what the designers and developers had in mind.

Stadium work was not new to Burkhart, a factor that led to their selection for the Conseco project. In 1997, the company had worked on the expansion of the University of Notre Dame football stadium, producing and installing the stadium’s way-finding signs the directional displays that indicate seat locations, exits, and restrooms.

Burkhart’s designer, Eileen Whitlock, collaborated with Conseco’s designers and developers to execute all their concepts of the signage and graphics for the Fieldhouse, an enormous job that involved the creation of thousands of signs. Karen Roark served as the point of contact for Consecos’ architects, Ellerbe Becket. As the interior project designer, Roark worked closely with Whitlock and other Burkhart staffers to coordinate the tone of the signs. She was impressed with the innovative way Burkhart integrated the challenging elements of the signs into the unique Fieldhouse design.

The Sponsor Pavilion has these complex billboard structures that had to be incorporated, as well as several very large gateway signs. Burkhart bent over backwards to meet some very tight deadlines, at the same time meeting the challenging components unique to a sports facility, Roark said. Chris Lee, marketing manager for the Pacers, agreed. Burkhart did a great job here. We had several unique signage elements; we were trying to maintain a retro theme. Burkhart really adjusted to make those unique applications work. When it was all said and done, Burkhart really did a good job for us.

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