It's too late to offer leftovers from Thanksgiving and too early to offer stocking stuffers for Christmas. Nevertheless, IBJ's sports desk is hard at work crafting news nuggets and baubles for mid-holiday consumption.
Tickets for souped-up Pacers going for a song
Now might be a good time for Indiana Pacers fans to go see their team.
The team is playing well (surprisingly well, some would say, with a 13-11 record), and the up-tempo style of play has been exciting to watch.
In addition, says ticket broker TickPick, the team’s ticket prices are among the lowest in the NBA on the secondary market.
Specifically, Pacers seats on the secondary market are the third-cheapest of 32 NBA teams, according to TickPick.
On average, Pacers tickets on the secondary market are going for $47.80 each. Only the Utah Jazz ($41.43) and Los Angeles Clippers ($47.42) have cheaper tickets on the secondary market, according to TickPick.
All three of those teams have at least one thing in common: They’ve lost big stars in the off-season. The Pacers traded Paul George to Oklahoma City (but received the hot-shooting Victor Oladipo in return, as well as solid inside man Domantas Sabonis) . Chris Paul jumped from L.A. to Houston, and Gordon Hayward bounced from Utah to Boston.
The Golden State Warriors have the most expensive average ticket price on the secondary market, at a whopping $211.51, according to TickPick. The New York Knicks have the second-highest at $148.88, and the other team from L.A.—the Lakers—are third at $132.80.
Of course, Pacers fans might not need to go to a ticket broker to get tickets. The Blue and Gold is 29th of 30 NBA teams in attendance. Through the first 11 home games, the Pacers had average attendance of 14,792. That means, on average, there are more than 3,300 empty seats per game.
Makeover proceeding as scheduled on Victory Field suites
Most of the suites at Victory Field will have a totally new look when fans pour back into the home of the Indianapolis Indians in April.
A $2 million renovation of 24 of the venue’s 28 suites began in September. The work is on schedule to be done in early March, Indians President Randy Lewandowski told IBJ on Tuesday.
Suite holders are likely to get a sneak peek before the season opens.
“We’re making substantial changes. They will look a lot different,” Lewandowski said.
In fact, just about everything will change but the size of the suites. They will get new flooring, paint, furniture, cabinetry and other fixtures, in addition to improved plumbing and heating-and-air-conditioning service.
The improvements were planned with input from Indians suite holders and the city’s Capital Improvement Board, which owns the venue. The project marks the second consecutive off-season during which aspects of Victory Field have undergone renovation.
The improvements are part of a lease deal for Victory Field signed between the CIB and Indians in November 2015. The terms of the 20-year deal—which began April 1, 2016, and runs through March 31, 2036—include a provision for the CIB to pay $6 million over three years for improvements to the venue.
The CIB agreed to pay $2 million to upgrade the venue’s video board and sound system during the last off-season. The Indians paid an additional $400,000 for that project.
Lewandowski has said Indians officials won’t hesitate to spend more out of the team’s own bank account if they think additional improvements are necessary to keep the facility in pristine and up-to-date condition.
St. Vincent pleased with Sports Performance center
It's been three months since St. Vincent Sports Performance opened inside the Indiana Pacers’ new training complex downtown, and officials are ebullient.
“It’s certainly exceeding my expectations,” said Ralph Reiff, St. Vincent Sports Performance executive director. “Not necessarily from a dollars-and-cents standpoint. But from the standpoint of awareness and impact on clients, it’s been unbelievable."
Run by the St. Vincent health system, the sports performance center provides evaluations and training for nearly all aspects of athletic performance. St. Vincent also offers cardiovascular care, medical imaging, lab services and primary care in the five-floor training complex, located on Delaware Street, just east of Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
“We’re getting athletes from all over, but our zip-code map is lighting up in southern Marion County and into Johnson County,” Reiff said.
St. Vincent also has sports performance facilities in Carmel, Westfield and Fishers.
“The physical [downtown] building is adding some validation to what we’re all trying to do,” Reiff said. “We couldn’t have anticipated the response we’ve gotten. [IndyCar driver] Josef Newgarden was in recently and was completely blown away. He wanted to take pictures and send them to [IndyCar team owner] Roger Penske.”
The 130,000-square-foot downtown complex includes two full practice courts plus high-tech training and recovery facilities for Pacers players.
St. Vincent occupies the fourth and fifth floors. The fourth floor offers primary care and cardiology services to Pacers players and the general public. The fifth floor houses the sports performance center—complete with a 68-yard-long turf area, a zero-gravity treadmill and special units built into the floor to measure how a person walks or runs.
Don Schumacher Racing ready to roll for Riley
Brownsburg-based Don Schumacher Racing is ready to roll. But this time, it’s with bowling balls, not drag-racing cars.
DSR is hosting “This is How We Roll,” a bowling event to benefit Riley Hospital for Children, on Dec. 6 (6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.) at Western Bowl at 6441 W. Washington St.
The event is open to the public, and attendees will have a chance to bowl and mingle with National Hot Rod Racing Association stars. The goal is to raise $30,000, event organizers said.
NHRA drivers including Antron Brown, Shawn Langdon, Leah Pritchett, Tommy Johnson Jr., J.R. Todd and Ashley Sanford will attend.
Non-bowlers can attend by paying a $10 entry fee. All the proceeds go to the Riley Children’s Foundation.
“We live, work, and play here in Indy, so it’s important to all of us at Don Schumacher Racing that we use our public platform to give back to our community,” said DSR Vice President Megan Schumacher. “In fact, we've had quite a few employees’ families and relatives that have been helped by Riley Hospital for Children.”
DSR has been involved with Riley since 2005 and has raised more than $500,000 for its foundation through events, open houses and fundraisers, Schumacher said.
“We’re a seven-car operation and two of our race cars are ‘giving cars,’ meaning we use them to promote causes that are near and dear to us,” Schumacher said. “Each year, the NHRA stages their biggest event here in Indy, the U.S. Nationals. During that event, it’s an honor for us to fly the Riley Kids colors on the side of one of our 330-mph giving cars during the event.”