Early home attendance troubling sign for Pacers

November 15, 2012
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The Indiana Pacers are in a precarious position.

Not only has the team lost six of its first nine games without star forward Danny Granger, but a little of the momentum with local fans gained during last season’s playoff run has been lost, too.

Yes, it’s early. Very early. However, attendance through the first three home games isn’t encouraging.

Bankers Life Fieldhouse was packed with 18,165 fans for the Saturday night home opener against Sacramento Nov. 3, but then only 12,036 fans showed for the second game against Washington a week later. A Saturday night game with the Fieldhouse a third empty has to concern Pacers executives.

The team’s third home game against Toronto on Tuesday, Nov. 13, drew just 11,947. Clearly, the mid-week games are going to be a difficult sell this year—especially if the team’s offense doesn’t improve. Even ardent Pacers supporters have to admit it’s been painful to watch.

In fairness, the Pacers’ first three home opponents haven’t exactly been big draws with mega stars. But Pacers officials have to hope more fans will start coming to cheer for the blue and gold, not merely to see opposing stars.

The Pacers home attendance average this season is 14,049, which trails last year’s average of 14,168. If the Pacers can get Granger back in January and make another playoff run, attendance will likely go up.

Pacers sales managers have a goal of doubling sellouts to 12 this year. Pre-season ticket sales last month were up 30 percent from a year earlier.

But with the Indianapolis Colts making an unexpected gallop toward the playoffs behind rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, and all the attention being paid to the rising fortunes of the Indiana University men’s basketball team, bettering last year’s attendance, let alone reaching lofty goals, will be a serious challenge.

  • Pacers & NBA
    Anthony, Honestly the NBA has this issue across many cities. Milwaukee looked half empty when Pacers were there. Bottom line is too many games, overpriced, and not as fun watching compared to the college game. In addition, people can stay at home and watch it so I have no desire to go - in fact have turned down free tickets twice already this year. I am fine if this team goes away and the city should not give them anymore money.
    • attendance
      Interesting comment from Mike, and you wonder if blackouts actually might help attendance. I don't want to drive downtown at night when i can watch it on TV!
    • Killing themselves
      I've often thought the Pacers kill themselves by putting so many games on TV. Besides the team feels like it is at best in neutral, if not in outright reverse. I think bringing back Donnie Walsh was a mistake.
      • NBA problem
        I agree that this is more of an NBA problem more than a Pacers problem. The NBA has been losing attendance for awhile now at a majority of arenas. Heck, Miami even struggles to sellout every game and look at that lineup. How many times to you see white shirts or white covers on seats during a Heat home game telecast just so it looks like there are people there? I think the NBA needs to take a closer look at shrinking their schedule down to what is was last year in the shortened season. It will give these guys more time off to get ready and probably a better product out of the gate. The NFL has Thanksgiving and the NBA has started to own Christmas as a big draw for game day. I think the NBA should start their season on Christmas day, shorten the season and that will create some urgency in a run to the playoffs. Also, cut the teams that make the playoffs from 8 to 6 in each conference. That will make every game more of a factor, instead of the games in just April or May. That would even cut down on owners overhead, but the problem is that players won't take a cut in pay for fewer games played so this idea won't even happen.
        • pacers
          i don't think it's the length of the schedule. Why wasn't it too long 20 yrs ago? I think it is more that fans have grown weary of the NBA style of play. Watching the Milwaukee game the other night, the arena was half empty and the crowd was about as enthusiastic as a golf tourney.
        • About bringing Donnie Walsh Back
          I agree they should not brought Donnie Walsh back he has done nothing for the Indiana Pacers.

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