Speedway businessman looks to score with local ABA team

April 27, 2010
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The American Basketball Association is expanding to Indianapolis, with a franchise owned by a Speedway businessman who promises to be more like Tony George than management of the other pro basketball team in town.

As always, when it comes to the ABA, it's sure to be a wild ride.

Many remember the ABA from its glory days in the 1960s and 1970s. What most folks around here don’t realize is that the ABA is still alive and kicking, with nine divisions, 52 teams (as best as I can tell) and a one-of-a-kind history.

But it's never been straight-line expansion, making franchise ownership risky at best. The 2007-2008 season saw nearly 20 teams fold within its first five weeks, and several remaining teams left the ABA to join other existing leagues. ABA executives insist the league is on the upswing.

The number of wacky stories coming out of this league are almost infinite. For instance, one ABA team based in Beijing would pay $3,000 to fly teams to Singapore for a two-game homestand. Early teams complained that they were forced to stay in a hotel that doubled as a brothel. ABA management forced Beijing to find a new hotel on hearing this news. Later teams stayed in a Holiday Inn.

Like I said, never a dull moment in the ABA.

The current iteration has no affiliation with the original ABA, which merged with the NBA in 1976.

The current ABA had an Indianapolis franchise in 2000 and 2001—the Indiana Legends, but like many before and since, it folded for financial reasons. ABA CEO Joe Newman, an Indianapolis entrepreneur, said the league has changed its business model since its inception, allowing many ABA teams to flourish.

The Legends had one of the best attendance records in league history, Newman said, and he expects the same from the new franchise, the Indianapolis Drive.

The Legends had a variety of home venues, and I recall that a good night might draw 1,500 spectators. Of course there were many nights that attendance didn’t nearly reach that level.

The ownership group of the Drive will be led by Speedway native Tim Hicks, a graduate of Ben Davis High School. Tim is the owner of VIP Management and Talent Agency, a company he founded in 1990. Hicks’ first client was NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

His firm also manages fan clubs for former Indiana Pacer Rik Smits and Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr.
 
Hicks has worked with Penske Racing, the Indiana Pacers, Indianapolis Ice, Indiana Twister professional soccer and the Racing Professionals Indy car racing team. Hicks also owns GodSpeed Marketing, Hicks Management Co. and WIN West Indy Network.

“Our goal is to load the team with players from Indiana, Purdue, Butler, Ball State, IUPUI, Marian, Indiana State, Manchester, Hanover, Evansville, Notre Dame and other great area schools,” Hicks said.  “We will be local, we will be competitive, you can bank on that.
 
“And, one other thing, Hicks added. “We are not going to charge the city of Indianapolis $15 million a year for the right to see exciting, fun-filled, high scoring professional basketball at affordable prices. Like Tony George at the Indianapolis Speedway, we will not be a burden to the taxpayers.”

Hicks has not yet announced who will coach the team or where it will play next season.
 

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  • Changes
    Indianapolis Drive...instead of Indiana
    Al Unser Jr ...instead of Sr
    thanks
  • help
    u going to need a water boy right look me up
    • Mascot
      As the Pacers unofficial mascot, if they don't offer me a deal soon, you could buy me for the right price Tim.
    • corrections
      Thanks for correcting your article!
    • Billy Keller for coach
      Billy Keller coached the Indiana Legends. Do you think he'll be back to coach this new team? Probably not. I think the Legends still owe him money.
    • Billy
      No Billy will not be the coach...he works for the Pacers..If the Legends owe him money...that's between the Legends and Billy...it is not my concern. Anyway, the Legends Job got Billy back on the Map, after he lost his High School Girls Basketball job..Billy should be happy the the Legends gave him a second chance to coach
    • First
      I need a coach who wants to win..can sell the team to sponsors...Someone like Stan Berge...Ben Davis Girls B-Ball coach...He is smart, can handle players..National Champs!...and at the end of the day..All he does is WIN..But, he has got a great thing a BD and would never leave...Someone like him!
    • Venue
      Indy Drive sign venue...Press release coming next week...stay tuned...http//www.facebook.com/indydrive
      • Try-outs
        try-out information... email us at info@theindydrive.com or tim@theindydrive.com
        • New Players
          check out www.facebook.com/indydrive
          coming soon theindydrive.com
          try coming nov13

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        1. Yes sir keep cashing those 300K a year checks direct to IMS, while millions disappear from the teams like Rahal's. Guess there wasn't enough ka- ching going around to keep Sarah Fisher in business without their "merger". LOL._____.Meanwhile back in Realville the series with the "best racing in the world" drew what appeared to be about 5000 live spectators ( and probably 1500 of those Target "freebies", and was beaten in the ratings by a series that reportedly consists of "parades" and aired while most people are still sleeping. That will generate those big ka-chings for sure. :-). But, hey, as long as the Speedway gets the cash who gives a damn about the teams?

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