As the Indiana Fever prepare for Wednesday night's WNBA championship game, an executive with the team's parent organization is optimistic the women’s basketball squad will remain in Indianapolis.
Rick Fuson, executive vice president of Pacers Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Fever, said he is “very confident” about the team’s future in the city, though he declined to comment further.
“Right now, we just want to make sure these ladies have everything they need today to win the championship,” he said.
The Fever host the Phoenix Mercury Wednesday night at Conseco Fieldhouse and are one game away from winning the championship.
Now in its 10th season, the Fever have never been profitable. Team owner Herb Simon, who also owns the Indiana Pacers, has said this is a critical year in evaluating the franchise and its long-term viability here.
If ticket and merchandising sales are any indication, a recent surge in fan support may be enough to indeed secure the team’s future.
The sellout crowd at Sunday’s game against Phoenix nearly doubled the 9,210 who attended the first playoff game against the Washington Mystics. A few tickets still remain for tonight’s game, but Fuson expects a sellout as well.
Season ticket sales for the Fever stood at about 2,500 at the beginning of the season. Fuson declined to say whether the playoff push has resulted in additional sales but acknowledged that the team is seeing “positive interest.”
Fans also are showing their support by purchasing Fever merchandise. The team sold 800 T-shirts Sunday from its store and souvenir stands within the fieldhouse. On a normal game night, the team might peddle 100, said Gary Nelson, director of merchandising.
Nelson purchased an additional inventory of T-shirts for the playoffs and bought even more for tonight’s game, in anticipation of a championship.
“We’re ready to rock and roll tonight,” he said.
Fuson, who has been with the Pacers organization for 25 years, saw the men's team come close to an NBA title when it lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2000 finals.