LukeNukem keeps his eyes and ears open for any/all sports stories and in doing so, floated me some of the grumblings that are taking place regarding the Indiana Pacers. Essentially, there was a deal that the Pacers organization would pay 15 million dollars for Conseco Fieldhouse (which is only 11 years old). But the cash-strapped organization is extorting, threatening, asking the city of Indianapolis to foot the bill, or else they will have to leave. Do you remember reading this article here? Remember how I said that sports teams do NOT help a city’s economy? This is a perfect example. The team AGREED to pay the bill and now they’re threatening to leave unless the city pays it for them (yes, I know there was a clause that allowed for re-negotiation, but it’s still slimy). This angers me to no end for several reasons.
First, there’s obviously something wrong with the way an NBA team is run. According to USA Today, even when the Pacers were the darlings of Indianapolis (pre-Peyton/Marvin/and the other Reggie) they were unsuccessful financially. What kind of business moron do you have to be that you can’t make money when your team has established rivalries with the New York Knicks, pushed Michael Jordan and the Bulls to 7 games, and had a respectable showing against the Shaq and Kobe show? And now you’re threatening to take the Troy Murphy, Mike Dunleavy Jr. and Jeff Foster show on the road? Indianapolis already has a team with scrappy white guys (see Butler Bulldogs). So what city would want this show? Seattle? Kansas City? Vancouver? Seattle and Vancouver lost franchises. Kansas City already has two turds in the toilet bowl of sports (Chiefs/Royals). Why would we (KC) want another?
Secondly, who cares? I read a blog on bleacherreport.com saying there’s “no way” the Pacers are leaving, essentially, that it would be sacrilege to have an NBA team leave the “State of Basketball.” Keep in mind, he supports none of his arguments with “facts.” He just “knows” Bird and Simon will figure out a way to keep the team in Indiana. He may be right in what happens, but his assumption that chaos would ensue is completely wrong. Why? Because, Indiana is a land of basketball. And there are much better products being put on display at the College and University level. Think about it: Purdue—Matt Painter is recruiting heavily in Indiana and succeeding. Who knows what may have happened if Robbie Hummel didn’t suffer his season-ending Injury. PU-Butler final? It could have happened. Oh yeah, remember Butler? A mid-major team with the swagger and confidence of an established power team. Lost to Duke by 2 points and nearly won the damn thing. Finally, there’s a little known team called Indiana. Sure, they’re in a slump. But they’re a historically relevant team. Butler resides in Indianapolis whereas Purdue and IU are a mere hour away. So why would you pay to see a bunch of overpaid NBA players (who don’t win and haven’t won in 4 years) when you can see future NBA players (potentially) play their hearts out and win. I say, let ‘em leave.
And finally, let’s talk about the quality of the product. The Pacers recently finished their worst season since 1988 I believe. The have failed to make the playoffs for four years running. And they have the gall to say, “Pay up, or we’re leaving.” Indianapolis needs to take a stand and say, “Win and then MAYBE we’ll pay up.” Indianapolis has a stellar professional sports team (the Colts). The Colts and the playoffs have become synonymous. The Colts have one of the greatest players/QBs/whatevers of all time. So guess what? They had a bargaining chip. And what made their bargain more useful: The fact that the Pacers were on the downward slide. Think about it. Peyton was drafted in 1999. It took him a while to settle in, but you could say he found his groove around 2003, 2004. What happened in 2004? The Malice at the Palace (Pacers/Pistons) brawl. You can look to that event as the event that destroyed the Pacers as Indiana knew them. So with a product declining in one area (basketball) and rising in another (football), the Colts were the easy choice. The ground broke on Lucas Oil Stadium in 2005. So the city is already on the hook for that
stadium. Why would they want to attach themselves to a losing product that can’t make money?
It’s sad, really. Somehow, the people who make these decisions will be bribed convinced that the Pacers leaving would hurt the city. However, if one just looks at the facts: financially impractical and sub-par in quality with other products out there (NFL, College basketball), one would then say to Herb and Larry “Don’t let the door hit ya’ where the good lord split ya’!” Sorry Hoosiers, though I may be right on principle, that blogger I mentioned above is probably accurate—they’re not leaving and you guys will foot the bill. Until next time: keep it sweet, keep it smooth—like CocoaButter.