Frank Vogel Misses You


Your Indiana Pacers defeated the Atlanta Hawks 114-103 in Bankers Life Fieldhouse last night to move to 30-19 on the season. After the game, Indiana Coach Frank Vogel was understandably pleased with his team.

“Really proud of the effort tonight on the second night of a back-to-back. Gutsy win. A team win,” Vogel commented as he opened his post-game presser. “A lot of contributions from a lot of different guys.

“You know, this team plays with a lot of grit … a lot of hustle … A lot of unselfishness. They’re a fun team to watch. A fun team to coach. Really proud of how we’re playing at home, and …”

It was at this point, he took a little beat, looked slightly down at conference table, then – with a sideways smile – finished his opening comments by saying, “I’m hopeful that all you Pacer fans sitting at home watching on TV start coming out and seeing us, because this is a special team that we’re putting together here. We’re playing at a special level, and I look forward to seeing those crowds start getting up.”

Tuesday night’s contest was played in front of an announced crowd of 12,578, or a little more than 68% of the 18,165 that The Fieldhouse holds. The number of actual bodies in seats probably wasn’t more than two-thirds of the reported number.

Clearly, your coach noticed.

The Pacers are averaging just under 14,600 tickets sold per night this season (5th lowest in the NBA), and that is their highest average since the 2006-2007 season. However, that means that – on average – one out of every five tickets have gone unsold. There are sellouts – the Heat game Friday and the Bulls game Monday – but those have been generously augmented by a fans of the opposing tea. On most nights, there are large patches of empty green seats.

Of course, this isn’t uncommon in the NBA. Tuesday night’s opponent – the Atlanta Hawks – probably felt very much at home in front of sparsely-populated arena. They stand one slot ahead of the Pacers in attendance at just shy of 14,900 ducats per night. After a Pacer visit to Milwaukee earlier in the season, there was a conversation in the Pacer media room about a relatively empty Bradley Center. The general conclusion was that these kind of “partial sellouts” were the norm in many markets around the league.

But, this isn’t many markets around the league. Even setting aside the whole “In-49-states-it’s-basketball” propaganda, there are compelling reasons for people to come see this team. The Pacers have now won 15 straight in the Fieldhouse to run their record at home to 20-3. That’s the best in the Eastern Conference, and trails only San Antonio (22-2) and Oklahoma City (21-3) in the Association.

Paul George has been named to the All Star team. Both he and Lance Stephenson are blossoming before the very eyes of Pacer fans. Hometown product George Hill is growing into his point guard and leadership role, providing clutch play and maturity. David West embodies many of the qualities of the halcyon days of the mid-to-late ’90s for this franchise.

There is no question that Frank Vogel and his Pacers are putting a good product on the floor. It’s easy to see why they would hope that a few more people would come view it. It’s especially easy to see how — after a packed, partisan Bankers Life Fieldhouse during last May’s playoff run — they would be disappointed to play in front of a lot of empty seats.

Look, this isn’t a lecture. No one needs an excuse to not go to Pacer games. No one is or should be required to spend their money on the Pacers. It is a pastime.

But, here’s the thing … it’s a really good pastime right now. One worth checking out.

Because Frank Vogel misses you, but more importantly, you may be missing out, too.