Herb Simon found himself looking around Bankers Life Fieldhouse at times during the playoffs. The Indiana Pacers owner, usually sitting next to President Donnie Walsh in the corner near the tunnel, couldn’t help but smile as he looked around the building. Gold T-shirts and gold towels were often the theme during the Pacers’ incredible run to the Eastern Conference finals. The deep financial hole the Pacers have been in for so many years isn’t completely behind them, but Simon said he feels his franchise is turning the corner. The Pacers — led by Paul George and Roy Hibbert — are set to be competitive for years to come, and if the support they received during the playoffs is any indication, the fans who once turned their backs on the franchise are now supporting them. “I think the fans bought into our team and it certainly pleased us,” Simon told The Indianapolis Star in a recent phone interview. “This is a real team. It’s a bunch of people who played together, cared for each other and worked to get better as a team. That’s the exciting part of it.” The Pacers, bottom feeders in attendance for a number of years, were 20th in the league in capacity this past season, playing to 84.4 percent of the fieldhouse’s capacity during 41 regular-season games. Their average attendance of 15,269 ranked 25th among the 30 franchises, slotted between Charlotte and Atlanta. They sold out all nine home games — three each against Atlanta, New York and Miami — during the playoffs. “We’re very grateful to the city and the state for embracing us,” Pacers Chief Operating Officer Rick Fuson said. “Great guys, great team. It’s a renewal in basketball and the Pacers in Indiana at the highest level. The excitement and genuine caring the people express for the team is very heartfelt.” The Pacers — as they have done consistently throughout the years — declined to provide dollar figures on the financial state of the franchise. Simon said they are heading in the right direction, but there’s still work to do for the Pacers to get out of the red.
Pacers believe they have turned financial corner after playoff run to conference finals
Indianapolis Star | Jun 8