Wednesday, March 11, 2009
"If running against men has wearied you, how will you race against horses? And if in a land of peace you fall headlong, what will you do in the thickets of the Jordan?" - Jeremiah 12:5
A article from the Associated Press indicates that the Indiana Pacers organization wants the city to take over to cost of operating Conseco Fieldhouse, home of both the Indiana Pacers and the Indiana Fever. The Indianapolis Star states that the Pacers have lost money nine out of the last 10 years.
Furthermore, co-owner of the Pacers Herb Simon states that the Indiana Fever will not be long for Indianapolis.
Simon said he is committed to the WNBA team for just one more year. The team has lost "several million dollars," he said, and must double corporate sponsorships and attendance if it is to survive.
Why did he stop there? He might has well have asked for John F. Kennedy to rise from the grave and fly around the rafters of Conseco Fieldhouse. To ask a WNBA team to double its attendance in a year is asking the impossible. If you don't think so, ask any other team in any other franchise to do the same without massive giveaways or book cooking.
It's not that I'm not worried about the fate of the Fever - I'm certainly worried. A fact that many might not realize is that all of this is part of a game of chicken being played between the owners of the Pacers and Fever and the city of Indianapolis. Neil deMause of the blog Field of Schemes - a blog dedicated to sports owners' attempts to extort cities - writes in the comments that the Pacers are paying $1 a year - that's one dollar a year - in rent. "The notion of them moving anywhere just to get out of paying to clean their own bathrooms is, frankly, laughable."
Basically, the Pacers want a sweetheart deal akin to the one that the Colts got, and they're trying to play hardball by pleading poverty. "There's lint in our pockets! We're broke! If you don't give us X amount of dollars we'll move to Kansas City/Seattle/Sucker City!" The danger is that Pacers ownership might throw the Fever to the baying wolves in an attempt to prove just how serious they are. ("Oooooo!")
So the owners of the Pacers and Fever would kill a franchise that's existed for 10 years just to get out of paying operating costs of a stadium that is given to them by the city for rent-free use? For all the complaints about the WNBA not being a "real" sports league because it doesn't pay out zillions of dollars, it makes the owners of the Fever look all that much more cheap. The Pacers should bring someone smarter than them to Indianapolis to show them how to run a business...say, Hilton Koch. (/sarcasm)