When the Indiana Pacers matched Roy Hibbert's four-year, $58 million offer sheet that he had signed with Portland this summer, keeping him in Pacers blue and gold, no doubt the loudest cheers came from the occupants of Area 55. For the third season, 55 lucky and somewhat crazed fans will again be at Bankers Life Fieldhouse sitting behind the Pacers' bench whooping it up in Area 55 -- Hibbert's own personal cheering section.
Pacers fans submitted auditions to the Area 55 website -- and the fans chosen online will join other finalists who auditioned in person for the chance to win tickets in Area 55 -- courtesy of Hibbert. There won't be much actual sitting, either. Like any group of loyal, rowdy fans, they unapologetically root for the Pacers -- they mock their opponents, enjoy themselves and even chant “Hib-hib-horROY, Hib-hib-horRoy!” after each Hibbert free throw.
Here's one finalist -- who got himself pumped for the opportunity:
— Steven Berry (@stevenberry_1) August 27, 2012
“They bring noise, have posters and big heads,” Hibbert told NBA.com. “I like their cheers when the opposing team shoots free throws. I laugh while I’m on the bench when they make up the cheers.”
So what does it take to make the finals of the Area 55 auditions?
I got invited to the final tryouts for
@pacersarea55!!! Thank you everyone who has voted for me! I'll find out the final result on Thursday!
— Hayden Weaver (@HAYDENparker22) August 27, 2012
There's plenty of competition:
WooHoo I made to second rounds of
— Dana Marie (@DEEtotheDUB) August 28, 2012
One of the Area 55 contestants brought in a ringer -- check out this entry by Ben Schwartz of "Parks and Recreation" fame.
Hibbert appeared on the show twice as himself -- playing an employee of Entertainment 720, the ill-fated company co-owned by Tom (Aziz Ansari) and Jean-Ralphio (Schwartz).
For some, making the finals was so close, yet so far away:
Made it to the second round of
#Area55 auditions, but can't go because of a gig. Boo world, boo.
— Josh Baker (@thejoshbaker) August 28, 2012
Hibbert and a panel of judges -- including his mom -- will select the 55 winners at an audition on Wednesday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Just booked my moms flight to Indy so she can come in and judge
@pacersarea55 live auditions.
— Roy Hibbert (@Hoya2aPacer) August 28, 2012