Pacers to sell 15% ownership stake in franchise to billionaire Steven Rales

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Steven Rales

The Simon family plans to sell an additional stake in the Indiana Pacers to billionaire businessman and film producer Steven Rales.

The Simons, who have owned the franchise since 1983, will sell a 15% stake in the team, according to sports business publication Sportico, increasing Rales’ ownership from 5% to 20%. The deal values the franchise at $3.47 billion.

The acquisition, which is pending approval from the National Basketball Association, will see the Simons retain management of the Pacers and Pacers Sports & Entertainment. 

According to Forbes, Rales has a net worth of $7.5 billion and has spent $525.5 million to acquire his 20% stake in the Pacers.

“After considerable discussion, Steven is going to become a minority owner of 20% of the franchise pending league approval,” Herbert Simon, owner and governor of the Pacers, said in a written statement in which he referred to Rales as “my good friend.”

“Management of the franchise remains under Simon family control,” Simon said. “The Simon family is as committed to Indiana today as we have been since we moved here from New York in the 1960s.”

Rales, 72, is a graduate of DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. He and and his brother Mitchell co-founded Washington, D.C.-based medical, commercial and industrial conglomerate Danaher Corp. in 1984 and built it into an $80 billion company with 81,000 employees. One of Danaher’s holdings is Indianapolis-based Beckman Coulter Life Sciences, a division of Brea, California-based Beckman Coulter Inc.,

Aside from his life sciences and other corporate dealings, Rales founded the movie production company Indian Paintbrush, which has produced multiple films by director Wes Anderson, including “Moonrise Kingdom,” “Rushmore,” The Royal Tenenbaums,” “Isle of Dogs,” “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”

Herbert and Mel Simon acquired the Pacers in 1983 for $11 million, with Herb acquiring Mel’s share in the team shortly before his death in 2009. The Simon family, facing increased scrutiny in recent years, has insisted it is committed to keeping the franchise in Indianapolis for decades to come—so much so that the stipulation is included in Herb’s will.

Steve Simon, who is a co-owner of the team with his father, has taken a more active role in the team in the past decade and frequently travels to Indianapolis from his home in the San Francisco area to keep tabs on operations and serve as alternate governor in Herb’s stead.

“We want to be long-term stewards of this franchise,” Steve Simon told IBJ during an October interview at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

“We know this amazing building and partnership with the Capital Improvement Board and the city … is the result of a long-term lease that cements these franchises and teams here,” Steve Simon said. “Generationally, from Herb to us, there’s nothing else on the table other than to see that continue.”

Rales was a major donor to the Peeler Art Center, which was dedicated at DePauw in 2002.

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7 thoughts on “Pacers to sell 15% ownership stake in franchise to billionaire Steven Rales

  1. Interesting timing – just after completion of $360M in upgrades to the Fieldhouse paid for by taxpayers. If the Pacers had made this minority sale a few years ago, then the proceeds could have been used as the Pacers’ contribution for this purpose.

    Irsay – the Rich White Billionaire targeted by Carmel police – will be asking for upgrades to LOS within about 10 years and the City/State should require him to provide some funding. And thru selling a minority stake he can readily accomplish.

  2. Might want to use some of the proceeds to find a GM and coach that puts some defense on the floor. Right now, they’re laughable. It’s reasonable to think that HS will utilize the $ to finance his proposed hotel and apartment projects across the street?

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