Dear Mr. Herb Simon,
Your agreement with the city of Indianapolis to keep the Pacers in the state for the next decade is a win-win situation for everybody.
In no way are fans naïve enough to think you wouldn’t at least consider going somewhere else. As a businessman, the possibilities are tantalizing from coast to coast.
Anaheim, Las Vegas, Kansas City, St. Louis and Pittsburgh would fall head over heels for the rights to an NBA team. Valued at $475 million, you currently rank 22nd in NBA team value. With a move to a new geographic location, you could potentially skyrocket in revenue.
Yet in an industry where the dollar speaks volumes, you realize that the city not only benefits from your team. It’s not just an afterthought.
This city needs your team.
Attendance has skyrocketed. In 2007-2008, the Pacers were dead last in the NBA attendance figures. Today’s sellout crowd was the 28th such crowd of the season, the most since the home venue opened in 1999. The average attendance for the team stands at 17,501, the highest average in over 13 years.
Paul George’s jersey is the 14th most popular jersey in basketball.
George is making appearances in Gatorade commercials. Head coach Frank Vogel is doing the same for Dove, joining Jay Wright to promote men’s products for the company.
This is all not to mention the money the city gets from those who come to games and spend large amounts of money on tourism in Indianapolis.
Simply put, the Pacers are bigger than basketball, and are a key component of making Indianapolis the city that it is.
Then again, I would be remiss if I failed to mention that there is something to be said for the city having a team to rally around. Indiana is fanatical about basketball, whether it is the high school, collegiate or professional level.
Barring a collapse at Orlando coupled with a two consecutive wins by the Miami Heat, the Pacers will lock up the top seed in the Eastern Conference this week. This means that despite the “sky is falling” mentality that has surrounded the team in the recent months, the possibility of a Pacers versus Heat matchup in the conference finals is a possibility, and a distinct one at that.
Any doubt that you have regarding your decision to stay put will likely be erased if that matchup occurs. When thousands swarm into the city from around the nation, you will see the fruit of your labor more clearly than ever before. The $10 million dollars that you invested in 1983 to purchase the team will become the investment of a lifetime, if it hasn’t become that already.
You’ve been through a lot in over three decades of ownership. You’ve seen your team have years of consistency years in the 1980s and 1990s, culminating in a championship run that fell just short at the turn of the millennium.
Then, you saw your progress slowly crumble as the team made headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Now, you’re on the upswing again.
Once the smoke settled, some would not have blamed you for chasing the next opportunity. The grass is always greener. Yet others would have held a life-long grudge.
For what it’s worth, you made the right choice. The opportunity that fans will have over the next decade to continue watching the Pacers strive for a championship is one they will relish.
Hopefully it is worthwhile for you, as well.
Indiana Pacers fans everywhere