Pacers and Pro Sports and NBA and Sports Business

Speedway native launches professional basketball team

May 1, 2010

The American Basketball Association is expanding to Indianapolis.

Speedway businessman Tim Hicks will launch the Indianapolis Drive next fall as part of the ABA’s 11th season.

Hicks said he will name a coach and announce a playing venue in the coming months. He expects the first year’s operating budget to be no more than $100,000.

The current iteration of the ABA has no affiliation with the original ABA, which merged with the National Basketball Association in 1976.

The new ABA had an Indianapolis franchise in 2000 and 2001—the Indiana Legends, but like many ABA teams before and since, it folded for financial reasons.

ABA CEO Joe Newman, an Indianapolis entrepreneur, said the league has changed its business model since its inception, allowing many ABA teams to flourish.

The Legends had one of the best attendance records in league history, Newman said, and he expects the same from the Indianapolis Drive.

Hicks, a Speedway native and Ben Davis High School graduate, has a varied sports marketing background. Hicks is the owner of VIP Management and Talent Agency, a company he founded in 1990 and that counted NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon as its first client. 

Hicks’ firm also manages fan clubs for former Indiana Pacer Rik Smits and Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. 

Hicks has worked with Penske Racing, the Indiana Pacers, Indianapolis Ice, Indiana Twister professional soccer team and the Racing Professionals Indy racing team. Hicks also owns GodSpeed Marketing, Hicks Management Co. and WIN West Indy Network.

“Our goal is to load the team with players from Indiana, Purdue, Butler, Ball State, IUPUI, Marian, Indiana State, Manchester, Hanover, Evansville, Notre Dame and other great area schools,” Hicks said. “We will be local, we will be competitive; you can bank on that. 

“And one other thing,” Hicks added. “We are not going to charge the city of Indianapolis $15 million a year for the right to see exciting, fun-filled, high-scoring professional basketball at affordable prices. Like Tony George at the Indianapolis Speedway, we will not be a burden to the taxpayers.”
 

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