Indiana Pacers give big breaks to local chefs
The age-old stadium smells of stale beer and hot dogs are giving way to a new trend: sporting events as chef-inspired food halls.
Driving the news: The Indiana Pacers are featuring local chefs as they roll out new food options for the upcoming season, starting Oct. 25 at home against the Washington Wizards.
State of play: Gainbridge Fieldhouse has become a launching pad for restaurants through a 2-year-old program that invites chefs to sell signature dishes on the main concourse near Section 17.
The big picture: Participating chefs receive mentorship and exposure to thousands of potential new customers for two games — or longer, if sales are strong — while the Pacers gain food variety and local credibility.
Zoom in: Two restaurants — Mambos Cheesesteak Grill and Taste of Innova Wings & Greens — parlayed the guest program into permanent locations at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
- Monique Hawkins, a marketer who enjoys cooking at home, opened Taste of Innova along with her daughter, Kara Hawkins, an architect, in 2021 at the AMP at 16 Tech.
- Taste of Innova's initial stint at Gainbridge Fieldhouse turned into a big break, leading to 25% revenue growth at the AMP as Pacers fans became repeat customers.
- The restaurant has since opened a location at Lucas Oil Stadium.
What they're saying: "This definitely increased our business and our brand awareness," Monique Hawkins tells Axios.
What's next: The Pacers are bringing in 10 chefs for select games this season, including:
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