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Sports Business

Simon denies Pacers for sale

March 13, 2008

Rumors are running hot about the future ownership of the Indiana Pacers. The New York Post’s Peter Vecsey mentioned in passing in his column on Sunday that the Simons have posted a for-sale sign on the team. Who could blame them? The team is last in the league in attendance and besieged by controversy involving players’ off-court antics. But Herb Simon, who co-owns the team with his brother, Mel, said through a spokesman this morning that the report is “absolutely not true.”

If the Simons are casting their line for potential buyers, they haven’t told team CEO Donnie Walsh. “This is news to me,” Walsh told IBJ this morning. “I have heard nothing.” Walsh also was quick to point out that he did not talk to Vecsey about the issue. But one must take Vecsey seriously. He’s reported on the NBA for more than 30 years. He was NBC’s main NBA insider analyst in the 1990s, and works for NBA TV. “Peter does have his sources, but I have no idea who he has talked to down here on this,” Walsh said.

Interestingly, Pacers’ management might have known Vecsey’s report was coming. Sources close to the league and team said the Pacers fed The Star a story for last Saturday's edition--one day before Vescey’s report appeared--stating in the lead, “The only thing Herb Simon guaranteed ... about the Indiana Pacers for next season is that he and brother Mel will still be the co-owners of the franchise.” Oddly, the Simons had not been available for media interviews for months prior to that story. And while the Simons have answered select questions, they have refused to address issues concerning the team’s long-range future--namely, who eventually would succeed them as team owners. Mel is 81 years old, while Herb is 73.

Do you think the Simons would sell the Pacers? And how secure do you think the team’s long-range future is in Indianapolis?
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