INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The Pacers will hold their first official practice Tuesday, as the NBA season gets closer. Another sign of the upcoming season is the giant mural outside Bankers Life Fieldhouse, that details the season schedule.
The painting has become a landmark in Downtown Indianapolis, but many people may not know the woman behind the mural.
Barbara Stahl, artist and owner of Stahl Studios, has painted the schedule by hand for the past 17 years, since the tradition began.
“When I stop and think about the tradition, since 1999, I get a little overwhelmed. It’s been my life,” said Stahl.
Stahl first heard of the mural project secondhand and knew she wanted to be a part of it. She said she cold-called phone numbers on the construction equipment outside what was then Conseco Fieldhouse, until someone gave her the job.
“I had to hustle around to get this. It didn’t just come drop on my lap. It took me about a week to actually find somebody…to actually find somebody to talk to and get my foot in the door,” said Stahl.
Once her foot was in the door, Stahl had to tackle her biggest blank canvas yet.
“It was very exciting, the first time was of course really challenging,” said Stahl.
After seventeen years of practice, it now takes Stahl about 10 days to complete the paint job. She now knows each brick that makes up this wall.
“When I look back on it, I don’t think I could have known how important this job would be for me and my life and my livelihood and my career,” said Stahl.
Her work isn’t just outside Bankers Life Fieldhouse. You can find it inside the halls of the Fieldhouse too.
“I feel like these are like my walls,” said Stahl.
Stahl has painted all of the advertisements and artwork displayed in the hallways that welcome thousands of fans during every game.
“When I stop and actually think about all the people that actually see them and enjoy them, it kind of gets to me a little bit. It’s I’m like…wow, I’m a part of that enjoyment,”
For Stahl, Bankers Life is home. She was working inside the Fieldhouse during its constriction.
“It wasn’t just like I was here painting. I was part of a team building the Fieldhouse,” said Stahl.
The arena now holds pieces of her heart and secrets no one else knew about, until now. Stahl revealed to 24-Hour News 8 that she painted an “SS” in every original painting.
Growing up in Indiana, Stahl knows it’s more than just basketball in this state.
“Basketball is everything,” said Stahl.
She also knows her mural is so much more than just a schedule.
“The fact that it’s become a landmark is something that’s really very special to me,” said Stahl.
Stahl said she has had a bird’s eye view of the city for nearly two decades decades, and she’s watched it grow and flourish.
You can hear what she said has changed the most since she starting painting in the video below.