Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Empty Seats for the Indiana Pacers

I attended the Indiana Pacers game on Sunday. The weather was fine and the game was not televised. My buddy and I grabbed a couple of ten dollar seats and watched the Pacers to victory. The place was empty with only about 12, 000 attendees in the Fieldhouse that holds 18, 500.

This hasn't been an aberration. This year each time I have gone to a game I find myself embarrassed about the lack of fan support. It reminded me of the Pacers in the early nineties. In the early nineties if the Celtics or Lakers weren't coming to town putting covers over the vast sea of empty seats at MSA was standard operating procedure for the team.

Bob Kravitz threw his hat in the ring on the subject. A viewing of the comments on the article one sees a variety of opinions on this.

This much is for certain, the Pacers have a real lack of fan support right now. We rank at the bottom of attendance in the league. Take note that Boston is in the midst of one of the longest losing streaks in NBA history and yet the rank almost ten spots higher than us. Now Boston has a much larger metro area than Indy but they don't have an announcer say before every game that Indiana is "hardwood heaven". They don't claim that in 49 States its just basketball but this is Indiana--trying to make the city seem fanatical about their team.

There are probably several reasons why the Pacers are failing at the gate. Here are a few that come to mind.

1.) The off court troubles of the team. This is the probably the easiest and every one's first answer to why attendance is down. It is hard to argue against this especially when their rivals for the professional entertainment buck, the Colts, have an image of law abiding and good citizens.
2.) The style of play. The NBA's style of play reflects more style than substance. This is evidenced by our best players getting their butts handed to them in international play. People here like a more fundamental approach to the game and you simply won't find that in today's NBA.
3.) Lack of a superstar. Jermaine O'Neal is a hell of a player but he isn't as beloved as Reggie Miller was by the fans. I think he had some pretty big shoes for him to fill once Reggie retired.
4.) Economic considerations. Going to a game isn't cheap and our State has had its share of economic troubles. I don't think anyone could argue that the Pacers are a necessary part of a family's budget if money gets tight.
5.) Lack of winning. I think this attitude stems from the fact our city got spoiled by the previous success of the Pacers. The team is over .500 and in the Eastern Conference are right in the thick of things right now. This is probably the weakest reason for the Pacer's attendance troubles.
6.) Fair weather fans. The city's fans simply won't bother to show up unless the team is winning and dominant.

I really think the Pacer's attendance problems stem from a combination of all those listed above. However, I can't help but to focus on the last one--that our city simply won't support its teams unless they are one of the top teams in the league. I can't help but to think about the Pacer teams in the early nineties and their attendance problems when they struggled on the court. We are also not that far from when the Colts blew chunks on the field and only brought in 47,000 to watch them at the Dome. Now that the Colts are winning, you can't get a ticket.

Are the Pacers' troubles of now reflective of the Colts' future troubles? What will happen when Dungy and Peyton retire? What happens when the Colts' fortunes turn and they have to rebuild? Will the city abandon them like they have the Pacers? Right now based on the city's recent track record I can't see why they wouldn't.

I have always seen being a fan like being in a marriage--you don't jump ship just because things get a little bumpy. There are always going to peaks and valleys and rest assured (and I base this on really nothing more than blind faith) the Pacers' fortunes will turn and they will be as beloved as they once were.

But in the meantime, if the Pacers could stop making the city out like it is the "hardwood heaven" at least I could make it through a game without chuckling.

18 Comments:

Blogger torporindy said...

Yeah, I used to think this was "hardwood heaven" too, but that illusion was shattered once I saw the dismal attendance for the World Basketball Championships here.

February 13, 2007  
Blogger The_Kid_ said...

The World Championships were an embarassment for the city. But I think the ticket prices had a lot to do with that. I have been on the Star's comment board on Kravitz's article (I am getting roasted by my opinion you support the team through thick and thin) and most people are yelling about not wanting to spend their money on a bunch of "thugs" and that the ticket prices are too expensive. When I went to the game it was the ten dollar tickets that were empty.

February 13, 2007  
Blogger lemming said...

As a casual fan, #4 feeds into #1. The tickets, plus parking, plus getting in and out of the area before and after... If the team were a group of gyus whom I could admire, I'd root for them regardless, and would scrounge around to figure out a way to cope with #4. Given that they're a bunch of spoiled kids going to strip clubs when they should be resting up for the game, and do this when they know that the team has an image problem... obviously (OK, "obviously") they don't want me to work out #4.

February 13, 2007  
Anonymous Darren said...

Indianapolis doesn't have a lot of loyal fans. I remember the blackouts for the colts games when they were losing just a few short years ago.

February 13, 2007  
Blogger Marie said...

The Pacers have had this problem for a while now. What will it take to get them back on track?

February 13, 2007  
Blogger Butchieboy said...

I have an idea: Don't go into nightclubs and act like assholes. That might help.

February 14, 2007  
Blogger tommyspoon said...

As much as I hate him, allow me to quote Mr. Al Davis on his sure-fire way to attract a whole bunch of fans:

"Just win, baby."

February 14, 2007  
Blogger The_Kid_ said...

About the only way they can get it back on track is try to develop the team as they did in the late nineties. Those Pacer teams were full of role players and had the perception of good citizens, lead by Reggie Miller. With the contact structure that we have now and the team close to the luxury tax, it is going to be tough for awhile.

Butchie: You are completely correct. I think more than anything the few Pacers acting a fool when they are out has caused more grief for the franchise, and consequently has costs them in attendance.

February 14, 2007  
Blogger Timmy said...

"About the only way they can get it back on track is try to develop the team as they did in the late nineties. Those Pacer teams were full of role players and had the perception of good citizens, lead by Reggie Miller. With the contact structure that we have now and the team close to the luxury tax, it is going to be tough for awhile. "

Very well said~ I couldnt agree more!

February 15, 2007  
Blogger Nölff said...

Is Artest still playing? or did he become a rapper?

He was a BMF

February 15, 2007  
Blogger The_Kid_ said...

Nolff:

Arest is still playing and plays for the Sacramento Kings. He is subject to trade rumours though. It would have been great had he had his head on straight. No one doubts his talent. Keeping him around for as long as we did while putting up with his nonsense may have set up the Pacers for the off court nonesense they are experiencing as of late.

February 15, 2007  
Blogger torporindy said...

At least Artest only beat people up on the court (well, the stands too).

February 15, 2007  
Blogger scot said...

I've been to a few games this year, and have teh same frustrations as the kid.

I remember when the Pacers were in the finals vs the Lakers, I had so much fun that year. On random street corners you would see stands set up selling Pacers gear. It was great I loved it. But those days seem so long ago, I can't wrap my head around it.

And yeah, there are players on the team I don't like, Tinsley (before the nightclub incidents, I am more concerned about his injury history) but like the kid, I view fandom as a marriage. For instance, I hated Dunleavy. He was a Duke Blue Devil jerkoff. Now he's a Pacer. He's part of the family. The past few ganes before the all star break when he refound his shooting touch I was thrilled.

I sort of chuckle to myself when I hear people say this is a football town now. It's only because I see what happened to the Pacers. When Peyton is gone, then what for the Colts.

I have tickets to the Suns game and the Wizards game so far after the break. I hope that with this being the only show in town now after football season is over, stuff will pick up. But I don't know. Regardless, the Wizards game is $4 tickets. Come on, Indiana.

Sorry for the long post, this just struck a nerve.

February 17, 2007  
Blogger torporindy said...

Scot, I am going to the Wizards game too, but only really to see Arenas.

February 19, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi guys
pacers is my best team in the NBA i wish i could go to watch all their games i found a good web site where you can compare your new indiana pacers tickets an found cheap tickets
http://www.ticketwood.com/nba/Indiana-Pacers-Tickets/index.php really is a good site

go go pacers

April 07, 2007  
Blogger Zabola said...

ok, this is a new post to an old thread, but whoever wrote the article is wrong. It's all about #1--- the Pacers are perceived as a bunch of thugs (and for the most part rightly so). Am I a fair weather fan for not wanting to cheer for a bunch of criminals? Well then call me a fair weather fan. You couldn't pay me--- and I am not exaggerating here---- you couldn't pay me to go to a Pacer's game

February 19, 2008  
Blogger Zabola said...

..forgot to mention...it's easy to blame the kids, but it's the parents (Larry Bird, etc) who keep letting their kids get away with this crap and not punishing them or setting some strict rules...Come on, Larry!

February 19, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear ,

I'm an inter with startup widget 1000 and I created a news widget for Indiana Pacers News.
It's updated every hours with NBA headlines from several different sports websites like ESPN, FOX Yahoo,etc. (Take a look:http://www.widget1000.com/)

Can we add Indiana Pacers Team blog to the widget,too? That means that every time you post to your blog the headline of the post will show up on the widget and link directly to your post.
Anyone who puts this widget on their start page or on their website will see your
Indiana Pacers posts too. It's a powerful and free way to publicize your site.

Finally, would you add the Indiana Pacers News Widget to your site so that others can see it?
Everyone who grabs the widget will automatically link to you so it's great for your search engine rankings. Plus, it shows a lot of stories about NBA and since it's updated every hour it is fresh and will make your site even more appealing than it already is.

What do you think?

Go Indiana Pacers

Aurelie

aurelie@widget1000.com

March 17, 2008  

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