Yesterday, Indiana Pacers President Jim Morris told me Mel Simon “is the most important man in the history of the
Indiana Pacers.” No one would refute that.
But just as surely, Mel’s younger brother, Herb, 74, is now the most important person in the team’s future.
In the last two years, Herb has taken a hands-on role in turning around the Indiana Pacers and fortifying the WNBA’s Indiana Fever. Morris confirmed yesterday that not only is Herb Simon the chairman and chief executive of Pacers Sports & Entertainment, he is also the operation’s sole owner.
Though Morris wouldn’t divulge details, it must be assumed Herb quietly purchased Mel’s shares in the team within the last year. Mel’s health failed over the last year as he battled pancreatic cancer. Mel was listed as co-owner in the 2008-09 media guide.
No one wants to be insensitive at the time of a person’s death, especially when that person has done as much for this community as Mel Simon. But for years, I’ve wondered about the Simons’ estate planning when it comes to the Pacers and what that will mean to the long-term future of the franchise in Indianapolis. Now, we have our answer—or at least part of it.
This development would appear to mean that the future of the franchise resides not only with Herb, but with his children. Mel’s children, including Simon Property Group CEO David Simon’s future in the franchise is unclear, but it would appear it would be a lesser role than Herb’s children.
Herb Simon has only said that the Pacers will most certainly stay within the Simon family and has promised that the blue and gold will play in the Circle City for many years to come.
So now we can give thanks for all that Mel Simon has done in years past—and to the commitment his younger brother has made to our future.