Pacers fan fallout

January 29, 2008
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There’s been a lot of feedback regarding the article about the Indiana Pacers’ attendance problem that appeared in this week’s IBJ. A growing number of readers say they won’t be going to Pacers games anytime soon—even if the team starts winning. That’s bad news for the Pacers, since the franchise is already last in the NBA in attendance.

While league attendance is down 4 percent this year compared to last year, Pacers attendance has plummeted 22 percent. The league-wide attendance average nearing the All-Star Game is 17,100. The Pacers are drawing 12,068 through 19 home games.

Further bad news is that much of the negative reaction is coming from the business sector the franchise has tried to attract in recent years.

Tim Gravenstreter, 58, owner of Odyssey Map Store, on Delaware Street downtown, is one of the honked off fans.
“I was a diehard Pacers fan from Day One, going to the very first game the team ever had at the [Indiana State Fairgrounds] Coliseum,” Gravenstreter said.

Gravenstreter is no longer a season-ticket holder, and said he has turned down free tickets from his vendors the last two years. Those tickets are $175 seats and come with a free dinner. He said his 27- and 24-year-old sons have no more interest in the team than he does.

“I will refuse to go to see any Pacers game until every single player is gone who has been involved in a shooting, drugs or any other negative off-court incident,” Gravenstreter said. “I won’t put my butt in a seat to let them think I condone their off-court activities.”

Well, Indy sports fans, are you on the same page as Gravenstreter?
  • On the same page. Clean house.
  • Concur. Much more family friendly events we can go to. Two other items about why attendance is down. Hoosiers know basketball, and only want to see effort. Half the guys on the team don't consistently show that. If it is not there day in day out they won't show. Also, central Indiana economy has to be having bit of an impact as well.
  • I also agree completely. I was a huge fan from ABA days forward and will not attend another game until Tinsley and the others are gone. The amazing thing is the team President and GM still won't admit or take action on the obvious reason for the decline in attendance.
  • I think we need to look at the Portland Trailblazers and take heart. That franchise went through a very similar stretch. They got rid of the trouble makers, went through some lean years, drafted good ball players who were also good solid citizens and are now reaping the benefits.

    The Pacers marketing department also needs to ask itself why their attendance is so low, yet college and high school basketball is still very popular. The answer is simple. We hoosiers love THE GAME. Not the pregame show, not the halftime show, not the loud annoying music that is played while the game is being played. You know what's music to our ears? The squeak of the sneakers on the hard wood, the coach calling out plays, the players communicating as they execute fundamental hoosier basketball. The Pacers front office has taken the game that we feel so passionate about, and made it just like any other NBA game.

    I would rather sit in a cramped, unairconditioned Hinkle Fieldhouse because that's hoosier basketball. Maybe Larry has forgotten his roots.
  • Ditto - I won't be going to, watching on TV, nor listening on radio to any of the Pacer games. I took a lot of pride in a team that was made up of outstanding citizens. It seems that left when Reggie left. Reggie, if you're responsible for keeping these guys on the straight and narrow, then THANKS! We've had trouble makers come to the Pacers from another team, then turn out to be not only a good player for us, but good people off the court as well. That speaks well of the organization. Those days are gone. It seems that you hear more about their off-court antics than their on-court successes. These multi-millionaires don't deserve this hard-working man's money, and won't be getting it!
  • Anthony begins his article stating the fact that the Pacers currently have the lowest average home attendance in the league. While this is true, you may be unaware of the reason.

    Teams that have lower revenue numbers than Pacers will give away up to 5,000 tickets a game to boost their attendance numbers. When those seats then revert back to their normal prices, fans are upset that they now have to pay for tickets that used to be free. For this reason, the Pacers do not make a habit of offering large chunks of discounted or free tickets to fill Conseco Fieldhouse.

    I think a more telling statistic would be to publish where the Pacers stand in paid attendance.
  • I gave up my season tickets 3 years ago. I don't watch the games, don't attend the games, don't buy their apparel...and I really miss it.

    I don't even care if they're winning. I just want to be able to go to a game and actually support a team of young men whom I think are actually working hard to be decent citizens on and off the court.
  • It is sad to see the Pacer's at the cross roads they seem to be at. My wife and I have enjoyed decades of great basketball from the Pacers. I know that it is pretty bad when my wife no longer will watch a Pacer game let alone even watch the highlights (if there are any). The last Pacer game I attended a couple of years ago convinced me that I wasn't going to be taking my son any time soon. We unfortunately sat around a group of opposing team fans that were drunk, falling on people in front of them and their language was terrible. I decided that I didn't need to pay my hard earned $ to listen to a bunch of drunk people dropping the F bomb every 10 seconds. I realize that I may not have been in the best of seats, but that is what my $ bought I guess. The embarrasing and disappointing behavior of the players over the past few years has definitely been a direct reason for the lack of attendance, viewership and loyalty to the team....I hope that the owners and Larry are able to turn this organization around sooner than later. And I have to agree with Brian from 1/30/2008, Reggie brought class, dignity and 150% effort to that team. Let Reggie coach and put together his own team...I can say my wife and I would be watching with earnest. Okay, that was my 2 cents worth.
  • I enjoy listening to sportstalk radio. If I'm listening to the FAN and a Pacer's pre-game comes on, I go so far as to deliberately change the station. The off-court antics are an irritation, but when combined with the appearance of the lack of effort, I'm done. I was never a Boston fan, but always enjoyed watching when they were on national TV so I could catch one of our own diving, hustleing, moving, picking, screening...whatever it took to get the shot and win the game. In their playing days, Larry, Magic and MJ would never tolerate the lack of 110% effort each and every practice and game. The Pacers need to find that person and get rid of anyone who stands in the way.
  • Last year we had 6 tickets in the $157 price. The 6 seats in fronts of us bailed last year, 4 behind us left, and we gave up 2. All are unsold. I know because the Pacer rep told us. We are going to give up 2 more this year.

    Thugs, drug dealers and whining babies.

    I think my sons high school team draws a bigger crowd. And we have more fun there.

    Donnie, clean house and get us some decent, fun to watch ball players. I am tired of hearing the jokes about Indy.
  • I lived in Indianapolis for 25 years before moving back east. The Pacers were always a class act. I was sad to see the press about drugs, several shootings, and late nights for players. The infamous fight in Detroit seemed to be the start of it all, and it kept going down hill after that.

    It is ironic that you can have two teams, the Colts and the Pacers in one city who are complete polar opposites in terms ethics, integrity and off-court/off-field behavior.

    But, the only thing that can change that is the loss of revenue to the Pacers caused by the loss of ticket sales.
  • I agree with the other comments. The Pacer management needs to accept responsibility for allowing so much misbehavior to go on in their organization. Until Pacer management steps up and says, Enough!, and takes definitive action to remove the players who are the problems, the spoiled, overpaid, immature players will continue to misbehave. The Pacers are an embarrassment to Indianapolis. Nobody, and especially not someone who represents my city, needs to be out carrying a gun and roaming through strip clubs at 3am. The Pacer management needs to clean up their organization, solve their behavior problems internally, and accept responsibility for what they've allowed to occur. Then, and only then, will I even as much as turn on the TV to watch one of their games, much less buy a ticket and go to the stadium.
  • I used to be a die-hard nba fan back in the early to mid 90s and loved the Pacers back then. Reggie, Rik Smits, the Davis brothers, etc. Those guys were fun to watch and keep track of.

    Since then, my interest in the Pacers has completely waned. I haven't watch their games anymore or go to the games for the past couple of years. This is for a few reasons:

    - NBA isn't as exciting to watch as it used to be. The game's rules keep changing (seemingly for the worse). Everything is sped up even more than it was in the 90s (which was already fast-tempo), so each possession means less; players can't defend without being callled for a foul; allowed travelling is worse than before (the almost 3 steps, plus a jump, then actual shot jump - ?), etc.

    - The Pacers' image. This has already been discussed here, so no need to get into it again. It's no fun to be a fan of 'thugs'.

    - The team's revolving door of players. In the 90s, you had guys who stuck around for a while, so it was more fun to follow a player that way. Now, it feels like revolving door, and it's difficult to get emotionally attached to a team when you don't recognize most of the players.

    Some of those problems the Pacers can actually control and some they can't. But either way, I'll be watching the Colts and not the Pacers until any level of excitement comes their way.
  • I am still a season ticket holder although i have attended less games this season than in any of the last 30 years.
    I think a lot of people use the excuse of bad actors when they really mean bad team.
    This town has always been a front runner. when the team is good Indianapolis will support them. When they are bad the fans turn on them.
    It wasn't so many years ago that the Colts were blacked out on local TV due to unsold tickets. when they go bad again and the newness of Lucas wears off, there will be seats aplenty.
    It may take several years for the Pacers to get competitive again but when they do, and only when they do, the fans will return.
  • I agree with all these comments, I think the problem is at the top. I am sure that Larry Bird is a great guy and is clearly a basketball icon, but I’m not sure he is willing to do what it takes to make sure that these guys understand that they represent a community that wants to support them and deserves to be represented by a team that works hard and appreciates what it has to offer. These guys are often straight out of high school or at least have not had millions of dollars at their disposal and they need good solid roll models and mentors. When Jermaine O'Neal came to Indy he was young and one of his teammates let him move in with he and his family and took seriously Jermaine's well-being and success. I haven't seen anything like that in a long time.

    I think much of this could have been avoided if the Pacers leadership would have stepped up and set those players straight who were a disgrace to our city back in 2004. That was never effectively dealt with or owned up to and it has been downhill ever-since. It is clear what the problem is...someone needs to step up and show that the Pacers organization respects the city and is willing to do what it takes to represent it well. Until then I think they will be hard pressed to fill the fieldhouse.
  • I agree with all the earlier comments and while Pacer Management needs to shake up the team I think it also begins at the NBA office an controls on recruiting. It is wrong to recruit players right out of high school. They are not mature enough to handle all the pressure. While the NFL is not perfect by any means most of the players are much more educated and mature. Mike
  • Clearly Pacers fans have demonstrated that they cannot support this once proud franchise. I have to believe that merchandise sales are down as are tv ratings on FSN as well. The bottom line is that so long as the organization continues to employee persons of poor character and those who lack commitment, then the problems won't go away. It is time to clean house, perhaps from the top down. The team is a loser on the court and off the court, so a complete rebuilding effort would be more tolerable than this team. As they look to rebuild they need look only a few blocks away to the Colts to see a model sports franchise built with class through well-thought out personnel decisions.
  • I put the gear in a bag in the top of my closet mid last season and refuse to get it out until more changes are made. Looks like just a coaching change is was not enough. The front office needs to stand up and look in the mirror for some of the answers to why the team is the way it is. Their personnel decisions are suspect and the lack of standing up and demanding good moral values has got to stop. I know that cutting players will cause a financial hit, but show the fans and the other players you are serious. I will pull out the gear and go to the games when I see good quality players (not just athletes) and sound fundamental basketball being played. Win or lose.
  • Ditto the thugs, drugs, and whiners. Tough for a market our size to have the Colts and Pacers both well-supported at the same time. Remember Lord help our Colts when the Pacers were making hay? It may cycle back the other way someday. Don't underestimate the resurgence of IU and Purdue basketball, either. The college game still looks like basketball...
  • The thugs need to go! The other side of this story that no one (not even the Pacers marketing dept) cares to promote the good guys on the team. There are more good players than bad but the Pacers choose to hide and not promote these hard working individuals. I don't know who is in charge of this if it is internal or the workings of a stellar advertising genius but this season the Pacers are no where to be seen in a good light. Now that the Colts are done for their season, maybe the Pacers could try and sell some of the tickets two for the price of one. Quit being greedy and make Pacer basketball affordable. Obviously there are great seats available in the lower level. Someone might want to come see the other team.
  • I agree, these guys are a wreck. What I don't understand, is how Larry Bird can watch these guys behave this way. How any front office can watch these guys. Larry was so much fun to watch and worked his tail off. Now, he is in charge of a team filled with thugs. Doesn't make much sense to me.
  • I couldn't agree more with all the comments already posted. It seems to me it all started with the brawl at the Palace. We knew Artest was a bad guy. Why did we ever bring him in? As somebody was quoted in the IBJ article saying, Indy, perhaps more than others, wants a team with character. Yes, so wake up, Larry and Donnie, let's get some. Let's see more of the Mike Dunleavys, Jeff Fosters and Troy Murphys. They've got to be out there so let's go get them.
  • I'm a 50 year old middle class guy from the northside I listen to bluegrass and country and hip hop or son wears a belt on his pants and my daughters are not ho's. I refuse to pay hundreds of dollars for decent seats,..the $10 seats make my neck hurt when I look down, so they get none of my money. I have not been to a strip joint since my bachelor party and even though I live in Broad Ripple.somehow I have never been to Seven. And, very few of the Pacers look like me.....can the Pacer's management get the drift here?
  • I am a 22-yr old college student who wears a belt depending upon my pants. You are an ignorant 50 year old who seems to think that the issue at hand is race. It is not. White people do listen to hip-hop, go to strip joints, and are even permitted into Club Seven. I think everyone catches your drift, and I hope they disregard it. I think part of the problem stems from the recent success of the Colts. I think it is undeniable that some of the attention on the Pacers has been diverted to the Colts. Furthermore, I think that Colts are so popular because of the stars they have (Manning, Sanders, Freeney, etc.). The Pacers were popular when they had Reggie Miller because he was a star. Not only could he shoot the lights out but he was colorful (right, Spike?)Professional sports are about entertainement, and the NBA more so than the NFL, so stars are neccesary. If you want pure athletic competition you go to high school or NCAA events. I think the Pacers lack a star. Jermaine once was but has faded quickly. Essentially I think the problem is due to the Colts popularity and the Pacers lacking a superstar. Can we lose enough to get Eric Gordon? He is a hometown hero who would instantly jolt the franchise. Oh, and Kevin, Reggie Miller didn't look like you either.
  • Well said Slevin! This is the 1st year in about 15 that I have not had season tickets and it will be the 1st in 21 years that I won't attend a regular season game. Every day my reasoning is reinforced by the on and off the court antics. Reggie made both Donnie and Larry look good for a long time. There is no leadership with the current group and no face of the franchise. Are they ever going to grasp the “O’Brien System”? More than half the season is gone and I see 3’s being shot with reckless abandon and no defense whatsoever. O'Brien isn't the answer. Larry is not a GM. Donnie needs to retire (if he is not already) and we need some new blood. The last time I looked, Herb and Mel were still multi-billionaires. Do they really need the City’s help? They benefited from the good (Reggie) years. They need to manage themselves out of this one on their own.
  • I think Larry Bird himself said the samething as Kevin. Maybe we don't want to admit it, but it is true. When Slevin grows up, gets a job, and has a family he will probably sing a different tune. I doubt it will be hip hop. This is what happens when you make youngs boys millionaires. These players should be required to have a full time babysitter for a few years when they come in the league. Yes, the Colts are hot now and attendance is up, but I doubt that Dungy would allow this type of behavior. Hey I think I found the solution. I am not a fan and will never be a fan. I think the whole league is stupid. I don't know one person that watches the thugs I mean NBA.
  • I will not pay to see any crybaby millionares. I make a decent living but I will not spend $300+ for a one night sporting event of any kind again. i also have rejected FREE tickets to the Pacers. The Pacers and the NBA have got so many problems I will not even watch the highlights on ESPN. Baseball is a close second. The only ways to bring back true fans is to cut salaries, cut ticket prices and bring in a respectable team that performs on and off the court. My kids are teenagers and have not been to any pro sporting event or ever sat and watched on all the way through on television. We have been to several college events, where we don't have to worry about language or other drunk and disorderly fans. That's what you need to worry about. My kids generation won't even think about providing any kind of support.
  • People certainly like to make rash generalizations. I went to IU in the late 80s and have been to many games since then. Tom (in post #27) must have gotten tickets in the alumni section to avoid bad language and drunk fans. I am not saying that all college students are drunk and disorderly or use bad language but saying that going to college games vs. pro sporting events keeps your teens away from bad language and drunkenness is a bit funny. And one college event Tom needs to make sure his teens don't attend is Little 5 in April.

    Hey and not all people who listen to hip hop and rap are thugs. I enjoy a little Snoop Dogg every now and again. Hip hop has a good beat and is great music to work out to and doesn't drive me to the thug life or to ditch my belt or even to be a 'ho.
  • 1. Agree with above, look at Portland. Bring in a guy like Branden Roy to represent your franchise. If Indy had Portland's team (high bball IQ, high quality guys), I would buy season tickets.

    2. Pacers will NEVER win a championship with JO as the franchise guy. He's a great guy, and a great complimentary player, but we'll never win a title trying to build around him. This is a business, and it's time for him to go.

    3. Get the Pacers involved in the community. I don't know the last time I heard of the players connecting with the community...unless you count gunshots. Sorry too easy...

    4. Indiana citizens know and respect the game of basketball. We will only support a team that has players with the same knowledge and respect for the game.
  • The Simons better NOT come asking for handouts. First off, they don't NEED the money to help them weather a bad season. These are not a couple of brothers who own a small family farm or co-op and who have bad seasons occasionally. These are the same guys that own a ton of malls and they have deep enough pockets to weather ten bad Pacers seasons. Second, if they're doing poorly financially as Pacers owners, then let them shake up their management and staff. Start off by getting rid of the millionaire players who insist upon inciting or escalating violence inside basketball arenas and outside strip clubs, or anywhere else for that matter. Third, if it turns out that Indy just isn't the right community for the Pacers, LET THEM WALK. Let the market forces either support the team or allow it to flounder.
  • The thug excuse is just a way of saying you don't want so many black players on the team, it's ok just admit it and don't try to make yourself sound not-racist. I'm from Indiana and this doesn't surprise me at all. Hiphop and rap have about as much to do with basketball as country and rock do....which is nothing. Kevin and A.D. your comments have nothing to do with your own personal views on basketball, but instead society. If you two are IU fans I'm sure you were calling for Mike Davis's job at IU as soon as he was hired because he does not look like you. I myself am not a big fan of the Pacer's because they have so many troublemakers and because their just not any good. It's unfortunate that the players in trouble are african-american, and this gives people like you more fuel to throw on the fire. When I grow and have a family my kids can listen to hiphop, hell they can even go without wearing a belt, but they will be ok because of how they were raised. I'm done, hopefully i pissed you off enough to go get your hood and attend a rally.

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  1. What became of this project? Anyone know?

  2. Scott, could you post an enlarged photo of the exterior of the building? This will be a great addition to Walnut Street. This area will only continue to develop with additions like this. Also, please give us more updates on the "Cultural Trail light" expansion. Also a great move for the city, as long as there is maintenance money set aside.

  3. Great story IBJ! Citizens don't have a real sense of the financial magnitude of supporting Indy's sports and tourism sector. The CIB was a brilliant idea for creating a highly integrated public-private partnership to support this sector from the economic activity it generates. Unfortunately, most folks think the benefits of that economic activity accrue directly to the City budget, and it doesn't. So though the CIB is facing lean times (covering its costs while maintaining minimally acceptable reserves), the City is operating with deficit - less tax revenue than expenses each year - with a very fragile reserve balance. That's why it's so challenging for the City to fund basic needs or new intitatives (e.g. pre-k education; new jail), and some credit rating agencies have downgraded Indy from it's past stellar AAA status. More reporting on City finances would be welcomed.

  4. Sure, I'll admit that it bugs me to see that the IBJ.COM censors it's blog posts almost as much as the D of I does when someone points out the falsehoods and fabrications. _____But I think it bothers me almost as much that Captain/Defender/Disciple get his yanked too. You see, those of us with a sense of integrity, humanity, compassion, and a need for fact based opinion WANT to see all of his screeds posted. It makes our point so much better than we can do it ourselves.

  5. We're conflating two very different topics. Voter fraud is a myth and excessive gun violence is all too real. I just hope rational gunowners decide to stop being shouted down by the, well, let's call them "less rational" ones.