The Pacers' Attendance Is Embarrassing

In 49 states it’s just basketball. Which apparently people like in 49 other states.

On the final day of the regular season, the Pacers have the fifth best record in the NBA. That puts them in front of the Lakers, Celtics and Dallas, the reigning NBA champs. But in the home attendance rankings, Indiana fans show up to games less often than do those in Detroit, Sacramento and Bobcats, the team that will set an NBA record for futility if they don’t beat New York tonight.

In fact, the only team that the Pacers have better attendance per game than is the lowly New Jersey Nets, which have lost more than 75% of their games, are about to wave goodbye to their only marquee player and will relocate to Brooklyn in six months. With all those deterrents to anyone wanting to support the Nets, only 207 fewer people showed up per game, in Newark, to watch a horrible, lame-duck team play than did people to games in Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Sure, a lot more people live in New Jersey than Indiana, but that level of support is pathetic—especially for a state that claims to be basketball crazed.

Contrast this with a team like the Golden State Warriors.

Theirs is a fanbase routing for a team that has lost nearly 75% of its games this season. Moreover, Golden State loyalists cheer for a franchise that has won a total of five playoff games since 1994 and recently booed franchise owner Joe Lacob — during a celebration in which the Warriors retired team legend and Hall of Famer Chris Mullin’s number no less — because he recently traded away fan favorite Monta Ellis.

Yet the 23-win Warriors averaged 18,880 fans per night this season. That’s more than 4,700 more people per game than could be bothered to show up to watch the Pacers, which — oh by the way — won that same number of games just at home this year.

As Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star has reported, George Hill took to Twitter recently to encourage more “true fans” and “true fans only” to pack the house during what he hopes will be the first of many Pacers home playoff games on Saturday.

I was discussing the lack of support earlier today on Twitter, and several Pacers fans see this as a blemish on their state’s basketball resume. “I’ve never been this embarrassed to be from Indy,” wrote David, a Ball State University grad. “I have season tickets and guess I should look for real estate in Seattle.”

Other Pacers fans who have logistical problems making it to games don’t understand why more locals don’t show up. “It’s a shame when you think about guys like [me] who would die to see a Pacers a game,” tweeted cedric_A, “but living in Europe make[s] it difficult.”

And some care enough that they come to games despite having a long commute. “I tried my best,” wrote Ohio resident Ryan Trinkle on Twitter. “Went to 3 games in Indy and 1 in Detroit And I live in Cincy. I would love to be in Indy and go to more games.”

It makes you wonder why locals can’t find the time or the money, which is obviously an issue in this economy but shouldn’t cause the numbers to drop this far. “I’m a broke college student that had a full class load and works 20 hrs a week,” tweeted @KBrews_Clues. “I went to 8 games for $20 or less for each.”

Last year in the playoffs, when the Bulls came to town, we saw a similar lack of fan interest. For game four, the stands had to be, according to 8p9s reporter-in-attendance Tim Donahue, half-filled with Bulls fans. Many from Chicago acquired tickets and made the drive down to fill the seats that Pacers fans either didn’t want or wouldn’t pay for.

This year, the Pacers host a team from Orlando in the first round. So this presumably won’t happen happen again. That is quite the drive and, after all the Dwight Howard sideshows this season, I can’t imagine the Magic fan base is exactly overflowing with support for its team either.

So I guess that means the Pacers front office will just be hoping that the seats simply aren’t vacate as the team, if all goes as they hope, wins some games at home.

Like they were all year.

The 5th-place Pacers have the 2nd-worst home attendance in the NBA while the 23rd-place Warriors have the 10th-best fan support. Sad numbers for the Hoosier State.

Tags: Attendance

  • TLew

    Ticket prices are not the issue!! If prices were the issue the colts wouldn’t have done so well. Oklahoma City only has one pro sports team Pemba, and they are at the top of the western conference.

  • Bones

    You all are forgetting what a fickle fair-weather sports town this is, as far as the average fan is concerned.

    The Colts now have a season ticket surplus, where they once had a somewhat large waiting list for season tickets. Manning leaves and a chunk of the fan base left with him. Now there’s a 10,000+ surplus in season tickets. A real “football town” doesn’t do that. Would that ever happen in Pittsburgh or Denver? Absolutely not. Both are similarly sized cities and universally accepted as “football towns.”

    A large portion of Colts “fans” over the years started to show up because it became “cool.” Everyone hopped on the bandwagon. People treated most home football games like it was a giant social function, especially in the lower levels and club lounges, as the see-and be-seen crowd took over and filled the seats. Ask anyone from another traditional football market and they will tell you the same things.

    You want people to fill the Fieldhouse? Make it cool again and that same crowd will show up.
    How do you do that? Win. A lot. And become a serious title contender. It really is that simple.

  • Zachary

    Personally, I’m not too distraught with low attendance numbers. I’m a college student at IU and last winter break (’10-’11 season) me and a few buddies went to the Pacers-Wizards game. Yeah, it kind of sucked seeing all the kentucky jerseys there just to see John Wall play (especially being from IU…) but we were able to just buy balcony tickets at the booth for $5, which is within any person’s budget. Had a few beers at Jillian’s before, a few at the game, and even convinced Boomer to come up to the balcony to see us and the one family up top. Great time!

    I’m also not concerned because I know these numbers won’t last. My mom and I watched every game while I was growing up, and went to a bunch of games since she worked for the Indy Star and they had the suite at MSA. However, she stopped watching after ’04 due to incidences already covered. I keep telling her to start watching again, but she’s not convinced. When I told here we’re the 5th best team in the league right now and about to destroy in the playoffs, she said its too late this season, she’ll get in to it next season, which I feel is a common idea among many people. Indy people just needed this season to convince them that the Pacers are back, and about to do big things.

  • gg

    Awful ballclub.
    Doesn’t really matter how good the pacers get. attendance is gone for good.
    Only way they could help attendance, is to lower concession stand prices. At 8 dollar beers, it takes a long of drinking to make this team worth a shit. If i could get a better for 3 bucks or something normal. I would go alot. Cheap entertainment, but its not worth paying up for.

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