Saturday’s Indiana Pacers home playoff game against the New York Knicks will be a "gold out" and sold out, said Pacers officials.
“Our phones were really busy [Tuesday]. This is the best excitement I’ve seen in the market since I’ve been here,” said Todd Taylor, who left the Texas Rangers organization to become the Pacers chief sales and marketing officer two years ago.
Each fan with a ticket to Saturday’s game, which tips off at 8 p.m., will get a free gold Pacers T-shirt to wear during the game.
“We had planned to either have the 'gold out' for game seven of the Atlanta series or game three of this series,” Taylor explained. “The 'gold out' was a very popular promotion during last year’s playoff run, and we expect it to create some real energy at home Saturday.”
The gold rush for playoff tickets in Indianapolis is already under way. After tickets for game three went on sale Tuesday afternoon, “there was a pretty good rush,” Taylor said. In addition to selling a slew of game three tickets, the Pacers sold 50 new season ticket packages for next year.
As of late Wednesday afternoon, there were only about 200 tickets left for Saturday, and Taylor said those were being held back for the NBA and its media partners. A few would be used as incentives to sell more season tickets for next year.
Remaining tickets are likely to go on sale between now and Saturday, Pacers officials said.
“If and when we put those on the market, we think they’ll be gone within an hour or so,” Taylor said, adding that the remaining tickets range in price from $35 to $150.
Game four on Tuesday also is on its way to selling out.
“We’ve had good interest in that game, but I think right now people are just so focused on game three,” Taylor said. “After game three, I expect those [game four] tickets will sell pretty quickly."
Tip time for game four is not yet set, but league officials said it would either be 7 p.m. or 8 p.m.
Game five will be in New York, and if a game six is needed it would be at Bankers Life Fieldhouse next Saturday, May 18.
“I hope it doesn’t come down to a game six, but if it does, I would expect ticket demand for that game to exceed anything we’ve seen so far this season,” Taylor said. “One way or another, it would be a critical game.”
The Pacers sold out all three first-round home playoff games against Atlanta, but there were between 1,000 and 1,500 empty seats for each of those games.
“You can put tickets in people’s hands, but sometimes getting them to show up at a game is another story,” Taylor said.
Taylor doesn’t expect empty seats to be a problem Saturday night at the 18,165-seat Fieldhouse.
“From what I’ve seen and heard from our fan base so far, I’d be very, very surprised if there are many empty seats for Saturday’s game against New York,” Taylor said.
The strong playoff ticket sales come on the heals of a 7.7 percent regular season attendance increase this year over last year.
The Pacers this year averaged 15,269 for 41 home games, compared to 14,168 for 33 home games during last year’s lockout-shortened season. The franchise jumped from 29th of 30 NBA teams in attendance last season, to 25th this year.
“The community is enthusiastic about this team right now, and we’re still gaining momentum,” Taylor said. “Now we need to convert our fans into more season-ticket buyers. That’s our goal.”