Pacers are asking, where are the fans?
by Mike Wells, USA TODAY Sports
The Indiana Pacers are sitting atop the Central Division. The New York Knicks are looking over their shoulders at the Pacers, who are just 1 1/2 games back for the second seed in the Eastern Conference.
The Pacers have been model citizens on and off the court. Three players — Roy Hibbert, George Hill and Paul George — purchased season tickets for select fans to attend every home game for free.
But where are the paying customers?
Fans said they wouldn’t return until there was both a competitive team on the court and a roster of players whose off-court behavior did not include visits to strip clubs.
The Pacers followed suit by cleaning house and putting together a team the city would embrace.
The Pacers are still waiting on them to hold up their end of the bargain.
Look around Bankers Life Fieldhouse when teams other than Miami, Chicago or the Los Angeles Lakers are in town.
There are lots of empty green seats in the building even though the Pacers bring a 15-game home winning streak into Friday’s game with Toronto.
About the only green owner Herb Simon wants to see is the kind with Ulysses S. Grant and Benjamin Franklin on it.
The slogan goes, “In 49 states, it’s just basketball. But this is Indiana.” That must be a reference to the Indiana Hoosiers rather than the Pacers, who continue to be among the NBA bottom feeders in attendance. They are currently 26th in the NBA, averaging 14,592 fans in a building that seats 18,165.
The Pacers have had just four sellouts this season; opening night, both Miami games and against Chicago earlier this week.
While they have increased attendance by 1,320 fans a game from last season, that’s still not enough.
“It’s very disappointing,” Pacers guard and Indianapolis-native George Hill said. “The fans show up when we play the marquee teams, but they show up wearing the marquee team’s clothes. We feed off them. As much as we can get people there, the better off we’re going to be.”
Fans had every right to stay from the fieldhouse during what Larry Bird admitted was a long rebuilding period. The … [For more on Pacers are asking, where are the fans?, click here.]