Ford Center (Evansville)
|Location||1 Southeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard|
Evansville, Indiana 47708
|Owner||City of Evansville|
|Broke ground||October 20, 2009|
|Opened||November 5, 2011|
|Construction cost||$127.5 million|
|Structural engineer||Thornton Tomasetti|
|Services engineer||M-E Engineers, Inc.|
|General contractor||Hunt/Harmon JV|
Evansville IceMen (ECHL) (2011–2016)
Evansville Thunderbolts (SPHL) (2016–present)
Indiana Firebirds (NGL) (2019-present)
The Ford Center is a multi-use indoor arena in downtown Evansville, Indiana with a maximum seating capacity of 11,000. It officially opened in November 2011 and is mainly used for basketball, ice hockey, and music concerts. It is home to the Evansville Purple Aces basketball teams, the Indiana Firebirds indoor football team in the National Gridiron League, and the Evansville Thunderbolts minor league hockey team in the Southern Professional Hockey League.
The first public event held at the Ford Center was an Evansville IceMen hockey game on November 5, 2011, when the IceMen defeated the Fort Wayne Komets 3-1. The first concert was held four days later on November 9, 2011 by Bob Seger and his Silver Bullet Band. The Evansville Purple Aces played their first basketball game on November 12, 2011, beating the Butler Bulldogs 80-77 in overtime.
In its first year, the new arena also hosted concerts for Elton John, Lady Antebellum, Reba, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Steel Panther with Judas Priest, Mötley Crüe with Alice Cooper, Aerosmith with Living Colour, and Cirque du Soleil's performance of Quidam.
The Ford Center played host to a game in the 2012 College Basketball Invitational, in which the Aces lost to the Princeton Tigers 95-86. The Ford Center also played host to the 2013 GLVC basketball championships and the 2014 and 2015 NCAA Men's Division II Basketball Championship. In September 2014, the Ford Center hosted Women's Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) Division 1 International playoffs, hosted by local roller derby league, Demolition City Roller Derby, featuring teams from the United States, England and Canada. In honor of the event, Evansville mayor Lloyd Winnecke declared the week of the event to be "Roller Derby Week" in the city.
History and construction
The Ford Center was designed by Populous (formerly HOK Sport) as a replacement for Roberts Municipal Stadium. The $127.5 million arena was approved by the Evansville City Council on December 22, 2008. Demolition work on the site began on December 5, 2009.
The Ford Center is bounded by Main Street, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, 6th Street, and Walnut Street. As planned, it will eventually connect to a new convention hotel and the existing convention center.
In 2016, the ECHL's Evansville IceMen and the City of Evansville failed to come to an agreement on a new lease and the IceMen's owner, Ron Geary, announced his intentions to relocate the team to Owensboro, Kentucky. In response, the City of Evansville brought in a new minor league hockey team called the Evansville Thunderbolts as part of the Southern Professional Hockey League for the 2016–17 season.
The Ford Center set up for an Evansville IceMen hockey game
- Evansville Arena Project - Timeline
- "City Council OKs Arena Plans". Evansville Courier & Press. December 22, 2008. Retrieved December 24, 2008.
- New Evansville Arena architect: Populous
- "Evansville Arena Facts" (PDF). City of Evansville. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 23, 2011. Retrieved September 9, 2009.
- Morris, Mitzi (September 19, 2014). "Women's Roller Derby Playoffs in Evansville This Weekend". WFIE. Evansville. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "2014 WFTDA Roller Derby International Playoffs". The Ford Center. Archived from the original on September 22, 2014. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "Derby Girls Roll In to Evansville". WEHT. Evansville. September 15, 2014. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
- "Ford Motor Co. Pays $4.2 Million to Name Downtown Arena Ford Center". Evansville Courier & Press. August 17, 2011. Retrieved August 17, 2011.
- "New Evansville Arena To Be Named Ford Center". Ford Center. Retrieved August 17, 2011.
- "Evansville Unveils Arena Name". Inside Indiana Business. August 17, 2011. Retrieved August 17, 2011.
- "UE, Colt Ryan trample Bradley". Retrieved 2018-02-11.
- "Evansville will be home to Southern Professional Hockey League franchise". Evansville Courier & Press. February 8, 2016.
- "Professional indoor football returning to Evansville with the Indiana Firebirds". Evansville Courier & Press. August 31, 2018.
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