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

  • http://PacersCenter.com Joe

    I don’t get it either.

    I don’t own season tickets, probably never will. I have a baby girl, but we still managed to make it to over 10 games this year. Granted I’d like to go to a lot more, but we cannot afford to go to a ton more games on our budget. But still, with as many people live in or around Indianapolis, the place should be filled when they are 3rd in the East.

    In my opinion, the Pacers have pretty much had to start from scratch in building the fan base again. After the brawl (yes in 2004), many abandoned the Pacers…then with the Jim O’Brien Era, even more abandoned the Pacers. I think if they managed to just blow the team up after the brawl and not go through the lean years with O’Brien, not as many people would be gone as they are now.

    It’s just a damn shame really. Such a great building to watch a game anywhere you sit, a great franchise, and a great group of players and we get crappy attendance.

  • Mike

    It’s very frustrating to go to games and see the place half full. Even for games against good teams during the week it seems like attendance could be much better. I don’t know if it’s a case of people being afraid of being embarrassed by the team nationally again or just apathy but it’s embarrassing.

    I moved back to town from Oklahoma City a year ago and one of the first things I did was buy an 11-game package. I’ve bought tickets to at least 4 games outside of that package. If I had more money to spend I’d go to every home game if I could. Not even the Colts recent run was more fun than when the Pacers were good and I love that we’re back.

    That said, I won’t panic on attendance quite yet. If we don’t see improvement next year then I will start to lose faith in the fanbase but for now I’m enjoying that #3 seed.

  • JD

    The problem is a few things: Indy has no superstar that make even the casual fan interested in going to see them play, they have been god awful for years and just recently have had their first winning season in a long time, and finally because yes this is a basketball state but its mainly a high school and college basketball state. The typical die hard bball fans in the Hoosier state care very little about the NBA till the playoffs. I’m sure the playoffs will be sold out because its generally the only games that fans are guaranteed to see intensity from start to finish.

  • poot

    hey! to anyone who has followed the Pacers attendance rates, this is an amazing finish to the season. thanks in part to Nets fans (or the lack thereof) but Indiana was #30 until under 2 wks ago

    good job Pacer fans! next season, 28th in attendance!

  • Tom

    When the team fell apart post brawl (coupled with Peyton’s rise), fans DECIDED to stop caring about the Pacers. That’s a big difference between just “stopping” caring temporarily as the team stinks, waiting for them to return to prominence. “fair weather” fans aren’t our problem. Our problem is that fans went away, went away on purpose, and need to be convinced to come back. Unfortunately it’s taking a while. I hope not too much longer, though.

  • Ronal Eugene is Right!!

    What is embarrassing is that these articles keep coming out, but not one even attempts to address why the problem exists. I wish I would have waited and made my previous post on this article, but I think I can do a better job. Allow me to explain the environment in Indianapolis that led to this attendance problem and why these articles are premature to all the clueless out of towners, the lazy bloggers/journalists who can’t be bothered to do research for their articles, and all the Indianapolis residents who have had their heads buried in the sand for the last decade.

    First, the brawl. Yes, it seems like we should be past this by now, but when talking about attendance this is still very relevant. Donnie Walsh took a huge risk by bringing in some less than reputable characters and it couldn’t have backfired any worse. This was an embarassment to the franchise and the city and turned a lot of people off. Then Artest demands a trade after not being allowed time off to promote a rap album further embarassing the franchise.

    Next, the most embarassing era in Pacers franchise history, The Jail Pacers Era. For out of towners, it’s important to understand that character matters a lot for sports franchises here. People in Indy don’t like and won’t support what they consider overpaid thugs which is exactly what this group was. In the early 2000′s the Pacers had a very good team and were close to a championship. They wrongly thought that the veteran leadership of high character guys like Reggie Miller would outweigh the risks of bringing in suspect character guys like Stephen Jackson and Ron Artest. What resulted was a string of off the court incidents that turned off even the most die hard fans. I’m sure there’s plenty I’m leaving out, but a quick search netted the following results:

    October 2006: Jamaal Tinsley, Marquis Daniels, Jimmie Hunter, and Stephen Jackson involved in an altercation at a bar. Stephen Jackson was hit by a car, he then pulled out a gun and began firing in the air in self defense. Tinsley was found to be in possession of marijuana. Tinsley and Daniels both had guns as well.

    Feb 2007: Tinsley and Marquis Daniels arrested for assault and battery after a bar fight.

    September 2007: Shawne Williams arrested for marijuana possession and driving without a license.

    Dec 2007: Jamaal Tinsley shot at outside a hotel after leaving a bar. An equipment manager was hit by the shots fired from an assault rifle. It was Tinsley’s 3rd late night off the court incident in 14 months and resulted in him being exiled from the team similar to the situation with Lamar Odom in Dallas right now.

    January 2008: David Harrison arrested for marijuana possession. Removed from team after altercation in locker room.

    I am definitely missing some of the off the court stuff, but just look at all the arrests that came up with a quick search. This team was despised. Even the die hard fans couldn’t defend this team when people called them thugs because that’s exactly what they were. It’s easy to point at the brawl, but that was just the beginning. This is where the city totally abandoned the team and the attendance issues we are still seeing today were formed.

    Murphleavy Era: Larry Bird saw that people couldn’t jump off the Pacers bandwagon fast enough, and he knew that the only way to get the fans back was to bring in high character guys. The only problem was all the off the court issues and the pressure from the city to blow the team up had taken away any leverage he had to swing a deal. He was forced to make a bad trade for a Peja Stojakovic rental to unload Artest. Then he was forced to take Murphy and Dunleavy’s awful contracts to unload Stephen Jackson. Unable to unload Tinsley he was simply told to go home. While the new team certainly didn’t fit the thug description that was now synonimous with Pacers basketball, it also didn’t bring any excitement or wins which are important to a team trying to rehab it’s image. The Muprhy and Dunleavy contracts handcuffed the franchise keeping them from being competitive while also keeping them mediocre enough to not get an exciting high draft pick. This was paired with one of the most hated coach’s in Pacers history. The only people paying attention to the Pacers at this point were either angry at the coach’s mind boggling rotations and love of the 3 or angry that the team refused to tank.

    The Lockout: The last and an understated reason why attendance is still low. It’s easy for die hard fans like the one’s on this blog to write off the lockout because we are going to watch basketball no matter what display of stupidity delays it. For a franchise like the Pacers who were already struggling to fill seats, this was a damaging blow. The Pacers finally made the playoffs last year and had a good showing against the top seeded Bulls and people were starting to notice them. All that momentum was quickly wiped away along with the first 2 months of the season though. The lockout also helped to reinforce all the negative stereotypes about greedy NBA players that the Jail Pacers era helped form. With the dysfunctional Colts struggling, a quick start might have brought some fans to the Fieldhouse, but by the time the NBA finally started back up the Pacers were absolutely buried in the local media. Lost in the end of the Peyton Manning era in Indianapolis, the Super Bowl, and the return to relevancy of the Indiana Hoosiers (College ball and especially the Hoosiers are king in Indy, always has been, always will be) the Pacers struggled to make headlines despite solid play, an exciting young core, and knocking off several heavy weights. It really wasn’t until March when Peyton was released that the story died down, it was huge in Indianapolis.

    These are the reasons why attendance is low. The people of Indianapolis did not abandon this team because of a losing record and to suggest that a winning record in a shortened season should instantly change the culture shows a complete lack of understanding as to why the problem exists. Despite all of this, there are many signs that show that people are starting to come back. I’m a season ticket holder and I’ve been going to games forever. Anyone who has been to a game last year and one this year knows there is a world of difference in the crowds even if the numbers aren’t different. The last few seasons it was painfully obvious that most people in attendance had received free tickets and were bored out of their minds. Even in good games against good teams the crowd was quiet seeming to accept that defeat was inevitable (A great example is the OKC ot game last season). This year even when the crowds are small, they are engaged and loud. There is a totally different feel in the arena this season. There are games like Philly last Saturday, a near sellout with almost all Pacers fans and a playoff environment despite Philly being a relatively boring team lacking a superstar. The TV ratings are through the roof. Radio ratings are up. There are Pacers signs and people are wearing Pacers gear downtown, and games are being shown in bars again. These are encouraging signs and reasons why these articles are premature. After a solild playoff run if the Pacers are last or close in attendance next season then it’s time to start writing these articles and questioning the sustainability of professional basketball in Indy, until then enjoy the return to relevance.

  • JT

    I also wonder how honest some of these teams are with these numbers. Maybe our front office is just more straight forward with these numbers, whereas teams like the Bobcats and the Pistons say its a crowd of 15,000 when only 6,000 actually show up.

    I have no basis for this idea, but I just wonder how easy it is for teams to “juke” the stats.

  • Ronal Eugene is Right!!

    I wonder that too JT. The Sixers are supposedly 15th in the leaguy, but the arena was completely empty for both our games in Philly. In fact most arenas the Pacers go to look that way on television.

  • Thatcher

    In response to JD…

    Not having a superstar is all the more reason to get behind this team. They have an entire team to root for, which is equally exciting. We have not been anywhere near “god awful” in the past years otherwise we would have had a high pick in the draft and started moving up. What happened was, we got stuck in mediocrity – 10th pick, 15th pick, 17th pick – so not terrible at all, just terribly average and normal.

    Can’t wait for the playoffs!!!

    GO PACERS!

  • Drew

    I always enjoy reading the posts on this sight, and like Ronal said, this sight is a lot like preaching to the choir. I go to about 10-15 games a year since moving back. It makes me sick, and completely embarrassed to go to games sometimes. Most notably game 4 of last year’s playoff against the Bulls. I was utterly ashamed of my city to let the Chicago fans come in here, and own the place. It was at least 70-30 Bulls fans. My son distinctly remembers Boomer shooting t-shirts into the stands, and over half of them getting thrown back. I agree with all of the arguments that have been put forward so far. There are two glaring other reasons that we are all missing. The first is the sheer presence of the Colts. Yes, they are in two different seasons of the year. However, the media can’t look past them. The second is the socioeconomic class that the Pacers appeal to. The economy hit the middle class, resulting in lower attendance. The good news for the Pacers (not the Colts) is that they are rebuilding, and will take some time to see results. The city, will eventually look for something to cheer for. The second bit of good news is the economy is starting to pick up. I feel that the last media/advertising push will pay off. People are no longer mumbling, and now proudly talking. Let’s just hope Bird sticks around to see his hard work pay off, and not leave when things are only going to get better.

  • dwain

    build it and they will come….

  • http://PacersCenter.com Joe

    Yeah I question the attendance at other places too.

    Look at the pictures of Indy vs. Charlotte here: http://www.sportspagemagazine.com/content/bb/mp-bb/gal-mp-bb/nba-charlotte-bobcats-88-vs-indiana-pacers-102.shtml?51457#0

    The place is damn near empty…in the lower level. The Pacers lower level has been bad, but not nearly as bad as it was there.

  • Jeff

    The Brawl, and Jamaal Tinsley’s constant off the court news, made the Pacers look like thugs in Indiana. And at a time tha the Colts and Manning became the toast of the town and basketball fans disappeared.

    Now we are good, but we don’t have a Star. We don’t really need one to win, but we do to sell tickets. I think if we beat the Bulls or Heat in the playoffs this year attendance will be up next year.

  • rigardo

    you dont need a star to sell tickets. see above: Blazers (#2) Jazz (#6) Warriors (#10)
    unless you’re saying Aldridge, Millsap and David Lee are bigger stars than Granger. maybe? not really… why did fans fill those arenas? could it be for reasons other than “Star power”???? it’s not like PDX or SLC are that much more affluent than Indy.
    Play the right brand of basketball and the fans will come…

  • rick

    There is no city in a position like Indianapolis, and with all the people from the “region” who think they are from Chicago. Not to mention all those kids from Chicago or the “region” that go to the colleges at IU/PU/BSU… I don’t know if low attendance or the Bulls fans from this made up “region” place is worse. There isn’t a lot of people that actually live in Indianapolis that are from Indiana. They live outside of it. Which should only effect maybe weekday games.

    Also you can’t just look at the attendance numbers alone because stadiums fill more. If you go by percentage of stadium filled then the Pacers are 26th… Indianapolis has to have by far the least population out of all the teams attendance above them.

    There is no way the bobcats had 77% of their stadium filled on average. NO WAY I saw at least 5 games and nobody was there

  • Conor

    I have always had the same frustration, and I would love to go to more games. However, I’m a college student and also working 15-20 hrs a week to pay for it so I do not have the time to go. The Bulls game last night really pissed me off listening to the cheers for Chicago making a bucket and even MVP chants for Rose!!!!! School will be out in a week, and I definitely plan on going to a few of the playoff games.

  • Kristin Hand

    Golden State’s average attendance (18,800) is more than the Fieldhouse will hold (18,500). Percentages would be a better indicater than numbers. By the percentages (attendance/max capacity), the Pacers and Bobcats both fill approximately 77% of their seats.

    Personally, I blame Isaiah Thomas. He brought in a style of player that is completely contradictory to the values of the area, and attendance has been terrible ever since. Thomas was a one-man wrecking crew when it came to the Pacers.

    I’m hoping that consistent play will help bring people back, and that next year will be a year when tickets are hard to come by.

  • poot

    ugh, yeah Isaiah was the worst.

    but you guys are kidding yourselves if you thought the Pacers ever had good attendance.

    In the early 90s Pacers ranked 20th-26th each season in ticket sales (27 team league.) One season the Hornets, and another season the TWolves DOUBLED ticket sales compared to the Pacers. This was when the team was finally getting good and Reggie was a really promising young player and the best player in the league was on a division rival.

    From 95-99, some of the Pacers best years, ticket sales put them 16th-22nd each season. Personally this is the time frame I think of when I think of “Pacers brand basketball” and “pre-brawl glory days.” And yet every single one of those season, Pacers sold few tickets than both the Grizzlies and Raptors.

    2000/2001 were prime Pacer seasons, featuring a trip to the finals and rebuilding a young core around Reggie. it was an exciting time, and ticket sales managed to put the Pacers at 10th each season. Still no match for the Raptors, but they had VC.

    Then 2002-2005. This includes the 61 win season, the brawl season, and post-brawl re-org. And yet, each of these seasons were 15th-17th in sales. Why the drop from 10th? JO was a budding star, talented pieces were put all around Reggie, yet back to pre-Finals attendance.

    in 2006 Pacers dropped to 24th in ticket sales. They would continue to hang around 27th to 30th, dead last, each season after that, including this one.

    Since the early 90s there have been 5 “eras” as far as the fans buying tickets are concerned.
    Yet never could crack the top 10. Probably would need to win a title for that to happen. Another trip to the finals might get us close. but more realistically we should shoot for 16th, middle of the pack, and we can get there with a few trips to the conference finals.

  • rick

    like I said. population. Toronto is a top 5 market in North America. You can’t compare them to Indy either.

  • Joe B

    As Paul George continues to improve statistically while maintaining his athleticism and insane dunks, attendance will increase. The Pacers have suffered, in addition to all of the points above, the lack of a “highlight reel” player. McRoberts kind of/sort of fulfilled this role last year (I had friends who went to games just to, maybe, see an electric put-back), but his inability to take his game to the next level meant he would never maintain consistent time on the court.

    People want to see elite athleticism on a nightly basis–Mike Dunleavy and Troy Murphy did not really add much flair. Granger lacks explosive athletic ability and is simply an above average player/ near elite player. George will put the non-fan fan in the seats that the Pacers lack right now…

  • rick2

    “Toronto is a top 5 market.”
    Los Angeles is a top 2 market, yet the Clippers routinely ranked dead last in attendance during the 90s. Since 2002 they have been around the middle of the road (13th to 22nd) and this is the first season they have cracked the top 10.
    New York is a top 1 market, though they generally rank 5th-7th in ticket sales. from 06-08 they ranked between 10th and 15th. 15th place for a #1 market??? clearly population is not a determining factor.

  • poot

    I’d pay $100 for a lower level ticket to see Paul George.
    (couldn’t find one at the price here when they played the Lakers and Clippers)

    If I was in Indy and there was a Pacers game that night, I would buy tickets. I like basketball. and they’d probably be cheap tickets for good seats too.

  • Tom

    I don’t get it unless we have morphed into an illusion of image meaning more than reality and this is very possible as we see every day just walking down the street, be it Indy, Lafayette, or Evansville in IN or St. L. Chi. or NY or any where else. No substance. Cutting to the chase this means Indiana is not the basketball crazed State that it is known for. This is a good team that once had a fabulous fan base. I went to very first ABA game. We couldn’t get in as it was sold out (read again SOLD OUT) but we were there. That fan base saw us win 3 ABA championships and put some of the greatest players ever on the court. Not just great Pacers but great players like Roger Brown, Mel Daniels and George McGinnis and other stars like Darnell Hillman, Don Buse, Billy Knight, Billy Keller, the great Freddie Lewis, Bob Netolicky, and Rick Mount. And here some of the blame goes to ownership who have really dropped the ball on the history of this great team. Retire some more numbers who richly deserve that honor. Freddie Lewis, Darnell Hillman, Neto, Buse, and Keller along with Johnny Davis and maybe Ricky Sobers. I can still recall the horrible blizzard of 1978 and Davis, Sobers and Mike Bantom and others getting in their jeeps, going out and buying food, medicine, what ever a need was, and then taking it to those snowed people. A guy like 7’2″ James Edwards could get through those monster snow drifts better than most other people could. And he did. And they did this on their own. Just a couple phone calls and off they went. IIRC. Retired the numbers by adding Freddie, Neto, Darnell, Keller, Smitz, Mark Jackson and a couple others. Then open a Pacers home of honor or what ever for guys who don’t need to have their numbers retired but they deserve mention so put them up in a separate section but one of equal honor for guys like, Buse, Mount, Knight, Davis, Sobers, Bantom, Dale Davis, John Long and others. But make an effort to honor your own franchise, your own history. But an ABA book together and not some 98-125 page thing for sale on that great era. Start a movement to get the basketball hall to set up a special committee with the sole purpose of picking Hall of Famers from the ABA. A little more activism from the franchise and a lot more get off your butt activism from the local fans would go along way. Or the team may end up a long way from Indianapolis.

  • poot

    Thanks for the read Tom. I jumped on the bandwagon 1992 so as a later arriving fan I would really appreciate some of your ideas coming to fruition!

  • Adam

    Indy is a bigger TV market than New Orleans, Memphis, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Utah and Milwaukee. New Orleans has the Saints to compete against, is traditionally a much more football-oriented fan base and has a team that, until a month or so ago, was owned by the NBA. Outdrew the Pacers. Milwaukee has the Brewers, with 81 home games, and an identity-less, mediocre NBA team. Outdrew the Pacers. People can to point the brawl and the thugs all they want … those guys are all gone. That’s a weak excuse. In an even semi-passionate sports town, and especially a region that claims to be crazy about basketball, attendance would have been up a couple thousand per game this season. Instead, even with ticket discounts all over the place, Pacers attendance is actually down a couple hundred per game from two years ago, when the team and the economy were worse than they are now. Even the Colts, in Manning’s sixth season when the team advanced to the AFC championship game, went 12-4 and had stars all over the field, had two home games blacked out and didn’t sell out one. This is just a weak, unpassionate pro sports market. It’s sad to see for those of us who do show up and care, but them’s the facts. If my last name is Simon, I’m seriously considering selling the team. For those of you who aren’t showing up, enjoy basketball, live reasonably close and can afford to attend games in person, what the hell is it that you want from this team?

  • http://Voteforthespoon.com Jeff S.

    All the previous statements apply including watching our Colts being destroyed, leading to city wide depression. To get people back to the games and realize this is a great new team the Pacers need to bite the bullet and lower the consession prices for a year. That is where most people have trouble affording the games. Sure they will lose tons of cash but if you could get a $2.00 hotdog or a beverage for under 5 bucks, do you really have to charge $3.75 for a bottle of water? It would be a small price to pay for the future, when I go to a game with my eight year old and costs me $28 for two hotdogs, one coke, one water and one order of nachos. If I could do the same for $12 I would have went to 20 more games and I am sure so would many more.

  • Peter

    When Stephen Jackson was traded in 2007, he had 1 more year on his contract. The Pacers could have waited until the offseason and used his 1 year contract as an asset simliar to what the Pacers did with Murphy’s contract back in 2010. However, they decided it was better to get him out of town as soon as possible. I am not second guessing the Pacers, but I am not part of the group that believe the Pacers were forced to make the trade for Dunleavy and Murphy. Also, Peja’s contract was an expiring contract , but we used our exemption in 2006 to sign Harrington, a player who left in 2004. When the Pacers signed Harrington to a 4 year deal and traded him in the 2007 trade, his second tenure with the Pacers lasted less than 1 season. Therefore despite the behavior of a few bad apples, the Pacers front office contributed just as much if not more to fans leaving. Indy is not like other markets like New York, where fans come and go based on performance. Indy has loyalty, but once fans are betrayed it will take longer for fans to come back. I truely believe fans will come back, but it will take a couple of years of winning before we see attendance correlates with performance. Hopefully, the front office does not give up before that happens.

  • http://www.eightpointsnineseconds.com Tim Donahue

    Stephen Jackson had three years left on his contract when he was traded.

  • DougInOz

    I am always insanely jealous of all the people living vaguely near an NBA arena, The fieldhouse is, according to google maps at least, a 25000 km journey involving 4 kayak trips across major oceans and about 150 toll roads. I always see the ads pop up or the twitter promos for $10 etc and wonder how people don’t end up at games even if they aren’t big fans. I’m been a pacer fan for nigh on 20 years now and distance has kept me from any games, and people in indy won’t go for $10? Blows my mind.

  • Brian Marris

    What is wrong with this city??? I don’t understand why people don’t show up and I am sick of reading or hearing excuses. Indianapolis, Indiana – the Pacer thugs of old are gone and this team is something special. I have been a Pacers fan since I can remember and have gone to at least a few games every year. Last year I graduated college and now with a full time job I have been able to go to even more games with friends, family and my girlfriend. I was even able to sit in the lower bowl for less then $10 a ticket!!!! Come on people – It is a rare opportunity to see a true TEAM in the NBA…I have never had as much fun at Pacer games as I have this year. I even saw the Pacers play two playoff games leading up to their run to the to the NBA Finals back in 2000 and the games this year have been just as exciting! I go to games whenever I am avialable and can afford to go. If I can’t go or they are out of town I watch the game on T.V. or listen to it on the radio. I wear a Pacers shirt during every game (I have to admit I missed three games but the Pacers still went 2-1 when I wasn’t wearing my Pacers gear so it’s okay) Great article – it is truly sad people don’t come out to games!

  • Luke

    Love these posts. Great reading.

    More than this reading, I love that the Pacers are BACK!! I love our players. I love their record. And I love their chances heading into Orl/Mia/Chi/OKC (in that order).

    How likely are the worst case scenarios of contraction or moving the team?? The only other thing worse than those two scenarios is Hibbert not getting resigned. Man, I want all these guys to finish their careers in Indy.

  • Matt

    College basketball and high school basketball are king in Indiana. period.

    I am 23 years old and have some free time to go to games, but I will choose to go to a Butler game over a Pacers game every single time (went to 9 last year).

    On a better note, I am happy that the Pacers are doing well with good guys and will be watching them in the postseason.

  • Kyle

    If you aren’t filling the stadium then your ticket prices are too high for your location. Simple as that.

  • Garrett

    What many people don’t realize is that there may be more Bulls fans in Indiana than Pacers fans. Almost all of my friends from the state of Indiana that are fans of the NBA root for the Bulls. I think this is partially due to their success in the 90′s and of course Jordan. Also Indiana basketball fans tend to care more about college hoops (IU, PU, Butler) than the NBA. Personally I would much rather watch a college game than an NBA game due to the intensity level.

  • Rick

    I think another reason attendance is so low in a small market like Indy, other than ones that have been stated. is that almost all home games are on TV. I very much enjoy that they are on, but if they were not, the only way to see the Pacers at home would be to go.

  • JRC

    A lot of the above reasons are probably true. The only little bit I can add is that attendance at sporting events is just like attendance at movies – it lags behind success. My favorite example is the “Jurassic Park” series – the first movie was awesome (and attendance was good), which led to even better attendance at the second movie, which was not nearly as good. The third movie, which was better than the second but not nearly as good as the first, had the worst attendance of the three. It’s all about expectations and past performance. Along those lines, I expect the Pacers’ attendance should be better next year.

    Also, remember, the Fieldhouse only holds 18,000+, so even at 100% capacity, would’ve left the Pacers at about 14th this season. It goes without saying that the attendance this year has been horrible and disappointing, and a few more years (or whenever that temporary ISC $$$ runs out) of this and the Pacers will be packing their bags. However, if the Pacers can stay in the upper 2/3rds of attendance, I’d consider that pretty good.

  • Mike

    36 comments and I don’t think I read one that mentioned how much more convenient and how much things have changed when you can watch an HD game on a 60 inch tv in your living room. Technology has changed. Unless you’re sitting in the lower level, the experience you get at the game isn’t that great. The average LL ticket runs upwards of 100 bucks. MOst club tickets are going to run you 50-75 bucks. That’s still a good chunk of change if you expect to get a drink or something to eat. No thanks. I spent 2 grand on my tv so I don’t have to go to games. “True fans.” Really? I’ve been to a few games this year and have watched almost every game on TV. I wear my Pacers gear. Been a fan my whole life. You don’t have to spend $100+ bucks to buy your way into being a “true fan.” Easy to say that when you’re making millions.

    For you guys who say “if I lived closer I would go to so many games.” Sure you would. Balcony tickets suck. They say there’s “not a bad seat” but when you can’t even really make out facial features of players, you might as well be blind. I’d much rather watch pregame, see replays, closeups, slow mo’s, analysis, and everything else that comes with TV. I want to be stimulated pretty much at all times. That’s why I don’t go to games all that often.

    Side note: How is attendance affected by season ticket holders? Where do the Pacers rank in that? Maybe they need to do a better job selling the packages. I agree with lower concession prices too. $7.50 for a miller lite? Please…

  • Flo

    I’ve said all year that the attendance has been embarrassing for the quality of team that we have. And now I see that even the Bobcats had better attendance than my Pacers and it only becomes more humiliating. I don’t know what the problem is but it needs to be fixed.

  • Fred

    I agree with Joe. It’s sounds really odd in other parts of the country, perhaps, but the brawl was devastating in so many ways. Good character counts here and fans – myself included – felt torched. I was a season ticket holder before moving away. The place rocked – even with mediocre teams. I think they are rebuilding the loyalty. Bird’s done a great job and Vogel is the right coach. Ownership will spend when appropriate. It’s happening.

    Let’s not forget how terrible this team was – living on promises of “next year” just a couple of years ago – after the brawl. We may be slow in the midwest, be we won’t continue to pay big dollars to support a team of flawed characters.

    Sorry, that’s just the way it is.

  • Jesse

    I agree with Adam and Tom. The excuses about the “thugs”, are just those, excuses.

    And if HDTVs are the main culprit, then how come attendance isn’t down significantly in all markets? Do they not have that technology in Portland?

    Either the fans show up or the team will leave. And the balcony is not a terrible seating experience, particularly for the price of the tickets.

    All these indictments of “lack of star power” really just reflect on the fanbase. And these comment sections of articles on the attendance always seem to be populated mostly by people who go to the games or would if they lived in state.

    I think the only hope is, like another poster mentioned, a time lag after success. But I expected to see it this season.

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  • Mike

    OK. How many seats are owned by businesses? That’d be a number to look into as well. Maybe more businesses in these other cities own a larger lot of seats. What’s the average ticket price? How many promotions are being ran? Maybe the Pacers don’t market as well as these other teams. There are a lot more things built into a team’s attendance numbers than just a 1 to 1 ticket sale to Joe Fan.

  • Derek U

    “Mike”- Get some fucking glasses, Club level is where it’s at! I’ive attended probably over 8 games this year sitting club level and you can’t beat it! Yeah the food/drinks/alcohol/parking can add up, but you don’t have to eat, drink, or park at bankers life.

    You can do it cheap, and quite easily! Go downtown, park on market/washington street (I usually pay 2 bucks to park for the rest of the evening), eat some papa roux in the city market building, or hit up some potbellies, walk 4 blocks to the Bankers Life field house, buy a 7.50 unlimited refill collectors cup and you’re fucking set! No need to buy over priced crappy food. Fuck nacho’s and hot dogs, get drunk at home; we call it “Pre-Gaming”.

  • Adam

    Excellent point, Mike. Pacers definitely need to build back their corporate season ticket base. The balcony seats are affordable for families; the lower-level seats, at face value anyway, aren’t. I sat in the lower level for the Philly game Saturday; paid about $40 for my seat, but face value was $97 … and it was the second row from the top, in the corner. Most families can’t afford those seats, which sit embarrassingly empty on lots of the weeknight games; only way those get filled is if the suits who can afford them buy them up.

    The balcony is affordable, though (no seat more expensive than $27 for most games; about half are $13), and I second those who say televised games and HDTV aren’t an excuse, since that technology is available in other NBA cities, too, and it hasn’t stopped worse teams in smaller markets from outdrawing the Pacers. We’re trying to figure out how the Pacers can draw better in comparison with other NBA teams. Since other NBA cities have HDTVs and high concession prices, too, those aren’t valid excuses/explanations.

    All that said, building the corporate season ticket base back, from an attendance standpoint, might be even more important than luring back single-game buyers and families. Of course, businesses won’t buy season tickets if their clients/employees aren’t interested in using them, so it still comes down to the average fan being passionate enough to spend some time and money and show up. I hope more do, because the current situation reflects very poorly on central Indiana as a pro sports market.

  • Joe

    Dinner and drinks at Tilted Kilt for 2: $60+
    Scalped lower level tickets, 18th Row: $60 (30 each… To see Pacers vs. Cavs)
    Peanuts and a couple beers each at the game: $35
    Parking: $5
    Drinks after the game at a bar: $40

    About $200 for 2 guys on a Friday night. We might have drank more than necessary, but none-the-less, that is simply not something I can do as often as I would like, what with student loans, and all the standard bills etc. Recerdless of HDTV, or the fact that other markets’ fans have all the same budget constraints. Just looking at me and my life, that is why, I love the Pacers, I gave up for a while but have regained interest in the past couple years, but I would rather spend $100 for a really fun weekend night than $50 on a less fun weeknight (when I have to be at work early the next day). Which means I will probably see half as many games as I could “afford” to.

    Maybe if more bars had specails for people who showed their game ticket? Or if they do, advertise them better? Or let me bring a flask into the fieldhouse? I might sound like an alcoholic, but I don’t think I am alone in how I like to have a good time.

  • TLew

    The fact is that Indiana is just not good with pro sports teams. The colts didn’t sell out season tickets this year and they have Andrew Luck coming. They sold out the last decade bc of Peyton Manning. Indianapolis is probably not big enough for two pro teams either…

  • FreeAgentSignee

    Come on Pacers fans!

  • pemba

    ask oklahoma city about how big their city is, and that place is full every night, and loud
    indiana people better wake up, cause seattle, vancouver, kansas city, and sacramento would all love to be the pacers, and sacramento makes indy look like paris
    the brawl was like 10 years ago, are all you people holding a grudge or what, who cares
    and lower level for 10 bucks? doesn’t sound too expensive to me.

  • pubes

    yeah and the HDTV arguement is stupid, they have plenty of HDTVs in Chicago and Portland and Dallas.
    i mean shit, Foster is retired now, Bird might be out the door, there’s no more links to that brawl team left at all. you want them to trade Boomer?

    can somebody who has been to Bankers Life Fieldhouse tell me what is so bad about it? I remember when MSA got blown up all anyone talked about was how Conseco was the mecca of basketball arenas. are the seats uncomfortable? are the Pacemates actually skanks? is the beer flat? I mean what is wrong with the place? isn’t just the fact that a good team is playing professional sports enough to draw in more fans?

  • Realist

    Agree with JRC. It really just lags a little. If the Pacers are a top 6 team for the next couple seasons and we’re still 29th in attendance, that’s the time for the alarm bells. Not just yet.

    Secondly, I agree with Kyle somewhat. “If you aren’t filling the stadium then your ticket prices are too high for your location. Simple as that.” Pretty much.