Early home attendance troubling sign for Pacers

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The Indiana Pacers are in a precarious position.

Not only has the team lost six of its first nine games without star forward Danny Granger, but a little of the momentum with local fans gained during last season’s playoff run has been lost, too.

Yes, it’s early. Very early. However, attendance through the first three home games isn’t encouraging.

Bankers Life Fieldhouse was packed with 18,165 fans for the Saturday night home opener against Sacramento Nov. 3, but then only 12,036 fans showed for the second game against Washington a week later. A Saturday night game with the Fieldhouse a third empty has to concern Pacers executives.

The team’s third home game against Toronto on Tuesday, Nov. 13, drew just 11,947. Clearly, the mid-week games are going to be a difficult sell this year—especially if the team’s offense doesn’t improve. Even ardent Pacers supporters have to admit it’s been painful to watch.

In fairness, the Pacers’ first three home opponents haven’t exactly been big draws with mega stars. But Pacers officials have to hope more fans will start coming to cheer for the blue and gold, not merely to see opposing stars.

The Pacers home attendance average this season is 14,049, which trails last year’s average of 14,168. If the Pacers can get Granger back in January and make another playoff run, attendance will likely go up.

Pacers sales managers have a goal of doubling sellouts to 12 this year. Pre-season ticket sales last month were up 30 percent from a year earlier.

But with the Indianapolis Colts making an unexpected gallop toward the playoffs behind rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, and all the attention being paid to the rising fortunes of the Indiana University men’s basketball team, bettering last year’s attendance, let alone reaching lofty goals, will be a serious challenge.

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