There are indeed some significant events that have occurred on June 30 in our history. In 1905, Albert Einstein published his now famous article which chronicled the Special Theory of Relativity. In 1960, Congo gained its long overdue independence from Belgium, and in 1971, the state of Ohio finally ratified the 26th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution, allowing 18-year-olds the right to vote.
But there is something that really wasn’t relevant or necessary, when the Pacers gave the city what appears to be an ultimatum earlier this year. It was, in my opinion, an artificial line drawn in the sand of June 30 by our beloved Indiana Pacers. Since Pacer President Jim Morris fired the now infamous shot across the bow in saying the Pacers could no longer afford the operational costs of Conseco Fieldhouse, the Capital Improvement Board (CIB) has worked tirelessly to foster an agreement to relieve the Pacers of $15-$18 million a year in debt related to the costs of keeping it open for all business, and not just the business of NBA basketball.
It now seems that the obstacle to an agreement is the CIB’s request to assume all operational expenditures and as a result gain control of the building, which of course would include all non-NBA related revenue. Word is that the Pacer brass does not like the sound of that and is posturing even more so behind closed doors in an attempt to get the CIB to cave into what I personally feel are ridiculous demands.
While the team has repeatedly stated they want the franchise to remain in Indianapolis, team President Larry Bird also said that he had personally received calls from parties interested in buying the team, if indeed it would be for sale.
While I have no doubt Bird is an honest man and would not fabricate such a story, the timing of that information being released is a bit suspect for a guy like me who has supported the Pacers since 1967, when my late mother would take me to a smoke filled State Fairgrounds Coliseum to see my ABA heroes.
The real game here is not basketball, yet one of who will blink first in this alleged game of high stakes poker.
Do we need our Pacers? Well you could argue that life would indeed go on without them. However, with the popularity of basketball in Indiana it does seem almost sacrilegious to allow them to get away. I say they are bluffing on relocation.
The CIB surely will not permit the Pacers to have their cake and eat it too, and that’s exactly what will occur if their tenants on Pennsylvania Street are allowed to receive this multi-million dollar stipend for the next 10 years and retain the control of the venue at the same time. That folks, is bad news for Indianapolis and makes no sense to anyone with a hint of a business background.
I urge the CIB to dig in deep and allow these negotiations to become as protracted as needed to make sure what is hammered out is something we all can live with, and not just the Pacers.
The solution is simple; the Pacers can have the money if they open their books to an independent audit that will show what they have spent since Conseco Fieldhouse was built for them and how they spent it. In exchange for what I predict the audit will show as fiscal mismanagement, the CIB assumes control of Conseco Fieldhouse and all the revenue unrelated to NBA games.
Seems logical to me, but then again, when has logic ever entered into the cost of procuring and maintaining a pro sports franchise? Take your time CIB, and do not allow yourself to be bullied or our community to be held hostage.
Notes: The Pacers selected Fresno State’s Paul George with the 10th pick in last week’s NBA draft. An athletic player who labored in obscurity on a bad Fresno State team, George should be afforded an immediate opportunity to earn minutes in training camp. The Pacers are still in need of a point guard after failing to acquire one via the draft or a trade. They have had their eyes on New Orleans’ Darren Collison, but it will take more than what the Pacers can offer to get this talented second-year player.
Danny Bridges, who thinks the point guard problem pales in comparison to the CIB negotiations, can be reached at (317) 578-1780 or Bridgeshd@aol.com.