Speedway businessman looks to score with local ABA team

April 27, 2010
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

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.
 

ADVERTISEMENT
  • 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

        Post a comment to this blog

        COMMENTS POLICY
        We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
         
        You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
         
        Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
         
        No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
         
        We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
         

        Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

        Sponsored by
        ADVERTISEMENT
        1. I am not by any means judging whether this is a good or bad project. It's pretty simple, the developers are not showing a hardship or need for this economic incentive. It is a vacant field, the easiest for development, and the developer already has the money to invest $26 million for construction. If they can afford that, they can afford to pay property taxes just like the rest of the residents do. As well, an average of $15/hour is an absolute joke in terms of economic development. Get in high paying jobs and maybe there's a different story. But that's the problem with this ask, it is speculative and users are just not known.

        2. Shouldn't this be a museum

        3. I don't have a problem with higher taxes, since it is obvious that our city is not adequately funded. And Ballard doesn't want to admit it, but he has increased taxes indirectly by 1) selling assets and spending the money, 2) letting now private entities increase user fees which were previously capped, 3) by spending reserves, and 4) by heavy dependence on TIFs. At the end, these are all indirect tax increases since someone will eventually have to pay for them. It's mathematics. You put property tax caps ("tax cut"), but you don't cut expenditures (justifiably so), so you increase taxes indirectly.

        4. Marijuana is the safest natural drug grown. Addiction is never physical. Marijuana health benefits are far more reaching then synthesized drugs. Abbott, Lilly, and the thousands of others create poisons and label them as medication. There is no current manufactured drug on the market that does not pose immediate and long term threat to the human anatomy. Certainly the potency of marijuana has increased by hybrids and growing techniques. However, Alcohol has been proven to destroy more families, relationships, cause more deaths and injuries in addition to the damage done to the body. Many confrontations such as domestic violence and other crimes can be attributed to alcohol. The criminal activities and injustices that surround marijuana exists because it is illegal in much of the world. If legalized throughout the world you would see a dramatic decrease in such activities and a savings to many countries for legal prosecutions, incarceration etc in regards to marijuana. It indeed can create wealth for the government by collecting taxes, creating jobs, etc.... I personally do not partake. I do hope it is legalized throughout the world.

        5. Build the resevoir. If built this will provide jobs and a reason to visit Anderson. The city needs to do something to differentiate itself from other cities in the area. Kudos to people with vision that are backing this project.

        ADVERTISEMENT