Simon denies Pacers for sale

March 13, 2008
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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?
  • Who would want to buy a bunch of thugs. but then again, if the pacers do not straiten up, they will have a good chance of leaving. I hope something turns around soon.
  • True or not, you never sell a team when it is at a low valuation point, that's bad business and the Simon's didn't get to where they are by making bad decisions.

    The Pacers need to clean house and get something to hinge some positive hopes on (Eric Gordon would be a start) and eliminate the bad press. It's not that hard to do for a team that had a pristine image for years.

    The fans need to relax a bit and say we'll return when things change, but I feel their sentiment that things are bad.

    Let's get things straight... THE PACERS AREN'T MOVING ANYWHERE. This is the low, the highs are obvious and the venue and potential fanbase is very positive. The NBA in general is seeing some strange changes in revenue and fan support. This is not an isolated problem. Return a winner and the fans will come back.

    This offseason is key to a turnaround.
  • OK .. let's look at this from a historical perspective : anytime anybody denies something (of this nature) we find out it was just a smoke screen for the truth .. I'm guessing it will be less than 6 months before we find out who bought the sorry lot .. hopefully it will be a group of behavorial psychologists.
  • I think the Pacers will be gone from Indianapolis by 2010:-(
  • Mr. Hillman is correct, to a degree. The Simon's are getting up there in years and really don't need this aggravation. They also are locals with a corporate headquarters a few blocks away. I suspect that they are looking for qualified local partners that would eventually take over the operation with their own front office personnel. Larry, like Michael would rather be down in Naples hitting wedges. However!!! If these qualified local entrepaneurs do not emerge by mid-2009 don't be surprised if the team is sold and shows up playing somewhere else.
  • Who is Indy could even afford to buy the Pacers? It'll be sad when Indy is left with only one professional sports franchise.
  • Herb Simon, who co-owns the team with his brother, Mel, said through a spokesman this morning that the report is “absolutely not true.”

    “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.”

  • Facts not rumor got it EXACTLY right..... enough said. How many years did we have to put up with the conspiracy theorists who proclaimed with almost absolute assurity that the Colts were leaving for L.A.? Then when the city agreed to build them a new stadium to play in which virtually guaranteed the teams address in Indy for MANY years to come, those same conspiracy theorists validated themselves by saying, had we not spent all the money to build The Luc, the team WOULD, indeed, have left.

    The Pacers aren't going ANYWHERE. Even if the team were sold, I highly doubt they would abandon the best asset the team has right now, which is the beautiful arena they play in. THIS team already HAS their brand new palace - a facility which is generally regarded as one of, if not THE, best in the world.

    No, the problems the Pacers are experiencing right now have nothing to do with their fan base, per se, or the facility in which they play (which is the most common starting point for relocation rumors). As Dr. Dunk said, the problem is with the product. Putting a bad product in a new wrapper isn't going to help sell more of the same old crap! The Simons realize this (I hope) and know that when the product improves, so will the sales. Indiana, and Indy in particular, has a storied basketball tradition with some of the most knowledgeable fans anywhere. When this team is restored, to even a part of its former glory, the fanbase WILL show its appreciation by filling the seats again. Until the necessary changes have occured, however, I wouldn't expect a full house at Conseco anytime soon.
  • This would be a terrible time to sell the Pacers.

    The Simon's are smart people. Indianapolis is the home to the NCAA (the leader in college basketball) and USA Basketball may very well relocate to Indy soon.

    This means insider information of the pipeline of basketball talent for recruiting, in addition to guaranteed demand for rent of Conseco Fieldhouse from both organizations. (Simons get Non-Pacer event revenue at the Fieldhouse as part of there deal with the city)

    Plus you NEVER buy high and sell low.
  • Indianapolis with out the Pacers hard to imagine. If the rumor is true their are so many cities who would wan't them. They could become the Louisville, St Louis, or Oklahoma City Pacers. Peter Vecsey sometimes is correct I still remember watching when he told everyone on NBC Isiah Thomas would coach the Pacers after the NBA finals. BUt I take Herbie at his word. I'm sure he's taken alot of clients to Pacers games to close his mall deals..
  • More importantly who will take over for the SIMON'S they are too old to run the company. It is ONE OF THE FEW FORTUNE 500'S left in Indy. Is there anyone who knows who will inherit the reigns, and if it will be mandated to keep the company in INDY?
  • With the Sonics likely to move to Oklahoma City, the Seattle Pacers isn't totally out of the realm.
  • Rich, Simon isn't even a Fortune 500 company. Indy only has 2 Fortune 500 companies. Pretty pathetic when cities like Richmond Va and Omaha Ne have 5 EACH.
  • The Pacers are not going anywhere! People around here are spoiled! The Pacers have been a playoff participant 16 of the past 18 years and were championship contenders for about 8 of those years. Every team has down times and times where they have to rebuild. It's just been a while since we had to endure that. You can look at Portland as a model of what the Pacers are going to have to do.
  • For those who say the Pacers will NEVER leave Indy, I say, 'wake up.' The good folks of Brooklyn never thought they'd lose the Dodgers, and the Colts had just as much history in Baltimore as the Pacers do here. As far as the argument that the Simons would never buy high and sell low ... First, the Simons bought the Pacers when the franchise was at the bottom of the barrel. And while the Pacers in Indy may be low on the demand scale, an NBA franchise is still a very valuable commodity. The league is planning no expansion, which makes it a very limited commodity, by virtue giving it a premium demand. Despite their problems, Forbes still put a $333 million valuation on the Indiana Pacers. And an NBA franchise in markets like New York and Los Angeles carry valuations between $560 million to$608 million. Peter Vecsey knows that there are always people sniffing for NBA franchises, and lately, the Simons have been willing to listen to them.

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