Saturday, January 26, 2008

Simons Whining To Ballard Already About Their Poor Pacers

The IBJ's Anthony Schoettle began setting the stage for what we all know will be the next move by Herb and Mel Simon, owners of the Indiana Pacers: We Need Help! Schoettle opens his story today:

The Indiana Pacers have hit rock bottom.

This month, the team slipped into last place in average home attendance among the 30 National Basketball Association teams, falling behind the New Orleans Hornets, a team that is selling tickets in an area still ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.

The Pacers’ average home attendance through 19 games is 12,068. New Orleans is averaging 12,159 through 21 home dates.

The attendance slump and two consecutive years of financial losses have stirred speculation the franchise will ask for city assistance.

The situation is so bad, said league insiders, NBA Commissioner David Stern is keeping an eye on it.

“It’s one of a handful of clubs the NBA is concerned about,” said Marc Ganis, president of Chicago-based Sportscorp Ltd., a firm that works with several NBA teams on business operations. “This is something no one foresaw three or four years ago.”

Scott O’Neil, NBA senior vice president for team marketing and business operations, said, “We’re putting a little extra time into the Pacers at this point.”

NBA account managers have come to Indianapolis to help with marketing, branding and sales, O’Neil said. “This is not a five-alarm fire,” he said. “Our mind-set is, let’s get the ship righted.”

Frankly, I could care less whether the Pacers are doing well or not. Given the criminal recklessness displayed by about half the team's players in the past few years, they haven't earned the support of their fans. But here's the part of Schoettle's story that bothers me. "The situation has some wondering if Pacers officials will approach the city to seek financial assistance," he writes. "New Mayor Greg Ballard said he met with team officials and has been apprised of the situation." "He said he will meet with Pacers coowner Herb Simon within a week or so, but Ballard called that a 'get-to-know-you' kind of meeting."

Nobody should be surprised that the Simons are already making a fast move on Mayor Ballard. Schoettle notes that they had already been having discussions with Mayor Peterson about their financial woes. Immediately after Ballard was elected, Barnes & Thornburg attorneys Robert Grand and Joe Loftus seized total control of Ballard's transition team with complete ease, although neither had contributed much to his campaign prior to his election. The two blocked the participation of anyone on Ballard's transition who couldn't be controlled, which many grassroots supporters, including myself, saw as a complete slap in the face by Ballard. Coincidentally, Barnes & Thornburg represents the Simons and their Pacers basketball team.

This also isn't the first time Schoettle has written about the Simon family's plan to extract more subsidies from Indianapolis for its ailing NBA team. A little more than a year ago, Schoettle wrote about how the Simons thought that the Colts' Jim Irsay got a better shake from the city than they had gotten. As he wrote then, "Pacers executives won't discuss the Colts' Lucas Oil Stadium lease, but sources close to the team say the executives are irked by the deal and think theirs pales in comparison," Schoettle added, "The lease states that if the Pacers experience 'significant net cash flow loss for any NBA season in or after the eighth year of the initial (20-year) term,' the team the next year could begin the process of seeking early termination of its lease." He concluded, "Because the upcoming season is the Pacers' eighth in Conseco Fieldhouse . . . that provision could open the door to renegotiation as early as next year . . ."

I'm telling you, folks, that Mayor Ballard has surrounded himself with folks who are in the pocket of the city's corporate elites. You can bet that there is going to be a concession granted to the billionaire Simons to ensure they can buy more $25 million homes in Malibu. The groundwork had already been laid. As Schoettle's articles notes, "City officials haven’t completely closed the door on the idea of helping the Pacers financially." "There are provisions in the Fieldhouse lease that would allow the city to subsidize the Pacers to help make up financial losses." He quotes insider Pat Early (son of former state GOP Chairman Rex Early), "This relationship has to be a win-win for the Pacers and the community, and you always look for ways to make that happen,” said Pat Early, a longtime member of the Capital Improvement Board, the city government agency that owns Conseco Fieldhouse. "Early stopped short of saying he’d support subsidizing the Pacers, something the city did before the franchise moved to the Fieldhouse." “Obviously, the solution is not to build another arena, and a subsidy would be difficult,” he said. “But if we can sit down and get the right people in the room, we can get creative.”

"We can get creative." You bet they can. This is already a done deal. The Simons supported Mayor Peterson's campaign with big contributions. They gave nothing to Ballard. But isn't that the way it's been since Ballard's election? Everyone who did nothing to help get him elected is reaping all the spoils of his victory. We'll find more money to subsidize the billionaire Simons, but we have no money to provide basic services to improve the quality of life for the people who actually live in this city and need our city's help in saving their neighborhoods from higher taxes, crime and blight.

31 comments:

Peter said...

If we require non-violent criminals to, as a condition of probation and at their own expense, attend pacer's games and - for repeat offenders - buy a pacers jersey, we will have a win-win situation. This plan will dramatically reduce jail overcrowding, while at the same time filling conseco.

The root problem with the pacers, of course, it that there are too many thugs on the team. Hoosiers tend to like our sports teams to be squeaky clean, a condition that the current pacers do not fulfill.

The arrestee-spectators, on the other hand, probably won't mind that some pacers have repeatedly had trouble with the police.

Anonymous said...

Anyone living in the city, giving charity, and paying their "fair share" in taxes is a fool. I understand some folks can be confused because these elites never gave Ballard anything prior to their. However, it is not always what they gave, but what they still can give. Ballards kids are in college, I think one just graduated. A nice $50K job? How about admission letters from some really big firms that gift money to certain law schools? In the end, it will always be the same old, same old. I think Ballard will do good in cutting the size of government, maybe. That being said, it won't shock me at all if the remaining positions are given to hacks. You scratch my back, I scratch yours.

Sit back and wait for the coming collapse. A thousands riots a year are coming to a major urban area near you. Get out of the urban cesspools while you can. Watch the collapse live on the BBC world news.

Anonymous said...

There should be a thug clause in the pacers contract with the city that makes billionaires Mel and Herb pay the city a hefty fine everytime one of their illiterate, ball-tossing-thugs gets arrested! If that were the case, we could probably hire a couple hundred more cops to babysit the overpaid criminals the Simons bring to our city!

Anonymous said...

Maybe if the team did not have a reputation as being common criminal violent street thugs it would help sales. Instead of heros or role models, the team members are always being arrested and behaving inappropriately...or using drugs.

For Larry Bird to say "it's a private matter" referring to suspension of a player for drugs shows a true lack of leadership in the front office!

Likewise, for Larry Bird & Donnie Walsh to justify the behavior of players in going to a bar known for criminal activity/shooting with a fugitive and rationalizing by saying "he did nothing wrong" also shows lack of leadership and lack of character by the front office.

Donnie Walsh & Larry Bird both need to go. They are not setting the standards for players to be role models and persons of high character. Instead, they accept the thug life of their players and try to rationalize their conduct. Donnie & Larry lack leadership and must go.

The Pacers need to clean house and set standards consistent with that of player role-models, instead of common street thugs. Rationalizing the behavior of brawls, drugs, shooting, appearance at strip bars (even off court, the players represent the team) shows that Walsh & Bird lack the leadership.

No, Donnie, people will not pay money to see street thugs play hoop! Until you address the problem, attendance will continue to drop.

Anonymous said...

Mayor? Greg Ballard has obviously lied to the voters who elected him and he has also betrayed the few loyal supporters who worked so hard to get him elected. I just can not understand why this man would stab his loyal supportes in their backs and turn to the disloyal political snakes who actually supported Bart Peterson. From the very first Ballard selected Olgen Williams, a man who has been a Peterson token for years. Then Ballard goes to Scott Newman? Where did he come from? Doesn't he have a lab that is doing business with the Department of Public Safety? and then, good old Greg Ballard goes out of County? I find it rather strange that all of the excellent talent that help this dishonest, Accidental Mayor, have been ignored while Greg Ballard kisses the asses of the same big business, money bosses that Bart Peterson was kissing! Well, folks, Bart Lied and so did Greg Ballard. We are in for a long and dishonorable term with Greg Ballard but he had better enjoy it. It will be his last!

Anonymous said...

Maybe the Simons promised Greg Ballard and Winnie free Pacer Tickets! So much for integrity in local government!

Is Greg Ballard for Sale?

SOLD OUT!

Anonymous said...

Want to bet that gratis front row seat ticket packages have already been spread around to every council member, mayor's upper level staff appointees, transition team members and Ballard? Wonder
if Andre' has his in hand?

Property Tax Voter said...

Please remember that the Simon's get non-Pacer event revenue from the Conseco Fieldhouse like Irsey's deal with the Lucas Oil Stadium.

If they are losing money it's because they haven't maximized this revenue source and they have a loosing team that few fans can support because of there players criminal behavior.

The Simon's play rough, just ask anyone in the real estate industry, so it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Anonymous said...

It would be a serious mistake for Greg to think the Pacers were worthy of precedence over the real problems of the City. Mr. Stern should have thought more about the Detroit thugs before coming down so hard on the local cagers and what effect his heavy handed tyranny would have on the Pacer franchise. But, he didn't think too well, did he? Pro basketball is merely entertainment these days and while the current team might be excellent ball players that doesn't count when the game they play is so degraded. The real problem is that Hoosiers are sophisticated basketball watchers and players themselves and notice a lot more quickly that the NBA product has been degraded.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Gary for keeping us informed. Should Ballard allow our tax dollars to subsidize the Pacers, this will not play well with the citizens. The Pacers are responsible for their own popularity with the fans. If attendance is down, they need to fix what is wrong on their own.

Subsidizing the team will create only more disfavor with the fans, who are also taxpayers.

Let the Simons cover their own losses or see if there is another city in the country that can afford to keep them.

Anonymous said...

Maybe if the team did not have a reputation as being common criminal violent street thugs it would help sales. Instead of heros or role models, the team members are always being arrested and behaving inappropriately...or using drugs.

Most of the Indy fans are nothing but bandwagon fans. They are not cheap fans either. As soon as they jump on the wagon, they buy the gear, go to the games, etc.. I personally think they could careless about the trouble with the Pacers. That is just a nicer way to say you don't care about an average, mediocre, or crappy team.

If the Pacers started winning and going to the semi-finals or final game, the fans would be there. There would be constant defenses to the players behaviors instead of constant criticism.

That is how Indy fans are. Hell, just five or so years ago I recall when the Pacers were in the finals or semi-finals. All of Downtown was Pacers. Their clothing was selling out. Then the good players left. The fan favorites left/retired. The new guys were young and have the problems that all young ones today have. Their royal treatment and money just makes an already entitlement attitude even worse.

Please remember that the Simon's get non-Pacer event revenue from the Conseco Fieldhouse like Irsey's deal with the Lucas Oil Stadium.

If they are losing money it's because they haven't maximized this revenue source...


The fact is that these corporations _still_ think this is the economy of five years ago. It isn't. Things have changed. I was on the back end of purchasing my home during the bubble. That was three years ago this spring. Guess what, plenty of three year ARMs are going to be adjusting upwards in a few short months. Four years later, another seven. Between now and then, those early seven year ARMs are going to be going up. This means less money to spend on stuff. Credit is tapped out. If they want fans in the building, they have to lower prices. If they are not driving enough people to the rodeo, Disney on Ice, etc., then prices are too high or they are limiting tickets too much. Lower your prices, people will come.

Anonymous said...

The city pays the Colts $1 million a year to cover "gameday expenses". So not only do we have to build them a new stadium, and give them all the naming rights money, we have to pay the Colts to play their games here.

Pacers and Colts giveaways - enabled by decades of politically backed graft - is nothing but corporate despotism. Pat Early, Bob Bedell, Bart Peterson, Steve Goldsmith, Luke Kenley, you name it, just about every politician over the last 25 years was a midwife at the birth of New Detroit.

Anonymous said...

You are such a poor loser (NOT ON Ballard's team)....You are ate up....quit with the constant nastiness toward Ballard....He has only been Mayor for 26 days...

Anonymous said...

The NBA and The Simons have no one to blame but themselves.....the community has told the Pacers in words and actions that we are tired of gun toting, drug using, strip club wannabes.....this Pacer team does not deserve the support of one fan nor one red cent until the thugs like Tinsley are gone.

Anonymous said...

Mel and Herb Simon = greedy bastards who can't seem to get enough. How much do you really need?

Anonymous said...

This little throwaway item in the Star could have been easily overlooked, yet it says tons about Ballard and the folks who are propping him up:

http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080122/COLUMNISTS04/801220324

[quote]Ballard kids 'behaving,' enjoying perks of their dad's new job

Like their parents, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and his wife, Winnie Ballard, Erica and Greg Jr. are getting used to their new lives in the public eye.

The 21-year-old Indiana University students attended Saturday's community luau at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but they showed up after the party had started and headed straight for the buffet table just as the mayor was welcoming guests.

The fact that Saturday was Greg Jr.'s 21st birthday was on the mayor's mind. "I have no idea what he did last night after midnight and can only imagine tonight," the mayor joked.

Erica Ballard, who will turn 22 in February, said they have been advised to remember their family is now in the limelight.
"We've been lectured," she said with a laugh. "Not by our dad, but by others, and we're behaving."
How are they settling into life as the children of a big-city mayor?
"I don't think it's changed too much for us, except we enjoy some of the perks," Erica said. Greg, Jr. agreed, saying they have access to great seats at the RCA Dome and Conseco Fieldhouse.

Erica Ballard will leave town in March to study in Japan for a semester.

Unlike their dad, the Ballard kids were willing to show off their dancing skills at the luau.

"I don't think anyone wants to see me hula, so that probably will not occur," the mayor said.[/quote]

How telling that Mayor Ballard trusts his children, yet his handlers see fit to lecture the two college-educated adults.

Advance Indiana said...

anon 3:21, I did read that and had the same reaction. And people wonder why I complained that Ballard started his administration without a ethics plan in place. If the mayor's family is going to accept free tickets to the Colts and Pacers games, how do you expect other city employees to behave ethically? I used to have season tickets to the Pacers years ago and gave them up because I was sick and tire of the price increases and the high cost of the concessions at the game. These elected officials accept free tickets and eat and drink for free at the game. The value of this perk for some runs into the thousands of dollars a year. Maybe if they had to pay income tax on these gifts, they would stop accepting them so freely.

Advance Indiana said...

And anon 1:53, No, I'm not on Ballard's team. I don't have any free tickets to offer him, and I'm not a rich man so I'm useless to him now that he's mayor.

Anonymous said...

11:55, 12:06, and Gary, a reality check here:

I just read the IBJ article. It specifically states the Simons could not be reached for comment on this story, and that they've not asked for any re-negotiating of their arena deal.

I had a Pacers season ticket for 22years, until 2006. I computed recently, that I spent probably $125K to that team, not counting concessions. That's quite enough for a team that couldn't give a rat's ass about my city and our love of basketball.

My company has five season tix now, and we can't give them away to customers.

Hoosiers love a hard-working team with good community spirit. Conversely, this team, and recent teams, are thuggish crybabies. Attendance will continue to go down until Larry Bird ditches whatever passes for his strategy, and invokes some of the Donnie Walsh team mentality of the 80s, 90s and so on...we'll take Reggie, Freddie Hoiberg, both Davises, hell even Rik Smits. Win or lose, I never doubted their fortitude. Honestly, Larry Bird's leadership has bene one big surprise and disappointment to me.

I attended the Laker game this season. There were at least 3-4,000 empty seats. Which is unprecedented.

The city has one, maybe two suites through the CIB, with 15-20 tickets per suite, which they use for various purposes. I don't believe there's a charge, except for food and beverage consumed.

For what it's worth, last season, I attended maybe half a dozen games. Every single freaking time, in the City suite, there was King Ro Conley and his city-job-squatting wife. Once, Yikes, in leather pants. Eating their asses off.

Advance Indiana said...

anon 3:31, The Simons don't have to do the talking. There are plenty of others in this town who do it for them.

Anonymous said...

Gary, I agree with you that this is already a done deal. The CIB began acquiring the land for the new Colts stadium many years before it was ever discussed publicly. Property owners were lied to about the purpose of the purchases. The City went to great lengths to hide the purchase price of the properties the CIB was acquiring. By the time Mayor Peterson first discussed it publicly, most of the land had already been acquired before the public had even been engaged on the issue. The CIB, in cooperation with the mayor, always secretly cuts these deal before broaching the public on them. It's always been the way the CIB does business.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the Simons could inform our mayor about how they get all the proceeds from all of the concerts held in OUR building.

Or why the taxpayers are still paying for a DELUXE APARTMENT that is built into OUR building for Reggie Miller.

Anonymous said...

The Indianapolis Pacer's problems a purely management's doing. The Simon's, in recent years, have struck me as just absentee landlords. Both Mel and Herb are up in years and the reigns to running Simon Properties have passed to a new generation. The Pacer's bottom line has been more often in the red than in the black since the city nearly lost the team years ago.
Personally, I feel that new ownership of the club may be the best way to go now. Keep them in Indianapolis but under new ownership and start all over again building the team back to where it once was in the pre-Larry Bird era.
The San Antonio Spurs have been able to create a winning tradition while remaining as one of, if not the cleanest, clubs in the NBA.
The media market size of San Antonio is ranked 37th in the United States and they still make it year after year after year.
Why is San Antonio (not exactly a hotbed of basketball tradition) so much better than the Pacer's organization? Good management and strict player policies.
The Simon's need to move on and place the club up for sale with the stipulation that the team remain in Indianapolis.
This club can do as well or better than San Antonio but it will only happen under new ownership and new management from top to bottom.

Anonymous said...

Why does the CIB operate without oversight?
Over the course of the past 20 years they've dumped nearly $7 billion of taxpayer backed money into the Downtown are without once ever being held accountable.
I know of no other city in the United States that operates in this fashion.

Advance Indiana said...

"No political or municipal corporation in this State shall ever become indebted, in any manner or for any purpose to an amount, in the aggregate, exceeding two per centum on the value of the taxable property within such corporation, to be ascertained by the last assessment for State and county taxes, previous to the incurring of such indebtedness; and all bonds or obligations, in excess of such amount, given by such corporations, shall be void: Provided, That in time of war, foreign invasion, or other great public calamity, on petition of a majority of the property owners in number and value, within the limits of such corporation, the public authorities, in their discretion, may incur obligations necessary for the public protection and defense to such amount as may be requested in such petition."

That provision of our state constitution is why we have a CIB which is unaccountable to the taxpayers. In order to get around this pesky little debt limitation provision, the legislature allows municipalities to create quasi-governmental bodies like the CIB. The indebtedness of these entities does not count against the city's indebtedness. It's a shell game our state courts should have outlawed years ago, but they haven't and they won't. As a consequence, entities like the CIB exercise extraordinary powers. Only insider elites are appointed to run the Board. They owe nothing to the public, and they screw the public at every turn. If somebody doesn't like what the CIB is doing, the Mayor and the council point at the CIB and say don't blame me.

Anonymous said...

Where is that unused apartment for Reggie Miller? I might want to use it.

Anonymous said...

I think it was a $28 million home in Bel-Air, not a $25 million home in Malibu. I think the old house Bren didn't like was in Malibu. Here's what was reported:

"And, businesswoman Bren Simon, whose husband is shopping center mogul and Indiana Pacers co-owner Mel Simon, has bought a massive mansion in Bel-Air. The Times reported that the house is brand-new, but it actually was built in 2001. The Times also reported that the mansion is more than 20,000 square feet in size, but public records show that the mansion actually is 19,584 square feet. Finally, the Times reported that the sale price was $28 million, but public records show that Simon actually paid $27.5 million for the mansion, which is down the road from a mansion owned by actress Debra Messing."

Watcher on the wall said...

11:21AM Some of the people on probation/parole have clauses in their probation/parole agreements that they cannot associate with known felons (the Pacers)

Anonymous said...

Ughhh....where DOES this stuff come from?

There is no Reggie Miller apartment. There is no trap door under Donnie Walsh's desk. Yeah, they did turn Conseco into a pool for the World Swimming Championships, but that's another story.

And no, we don't want the Simons selling the team. They are ideal NBA team owners--they leave the managmenet of the club to professionals.

This management team, as headed by Larry Bird, has superbly let them (and us) down. Larry may know basketball, but he's still the hick from French Lick, and this is a billion-dollar business.

Again, Gary--the Simons have remained silent on the issue of renegotiating their lease. They are classy in that regard.

I've still got the mental image burned into the back of my eyelids of King Ro and Judy Conley in leather pants in the CIB suite at Conseco. Scary. Wonder what King and Ron G. are gonna do with all their spare time now?

By the way, the list of who uses that suite is available from the CIB. I would hope Mayor Ballard directs the CIB, through his appointees to same, to open up those records without an FOI request or getting the public accessor counselor involved.

SOS said...

The subsidy to sports will never end; they always want more. Wait and see what happens when Lucas stadium is empty because Peyton hasn't gotten old or has retired and they are a mediocre team. It won't be long before that happens and Irsay will have his hand out again and again and again.

Anonymous said...

They can't make money because they can't win. The trouble started with bad guys being signed, but really blew up in Detroit. One drunken idiot ruins a franchise with a cup of beer. But that's only the beginning of the problems.

The Pacers owners, players and staff are some of the most worthless people on the planet. I can't think of a good guy in the bunch. If anyone on this site has ever met an employee of the Pacers who is not a class a jerk, with the exception of Mike Henn, please let me know.

Bail those guys out? I don't think so. The Oklahoma City Pacers has a nice ring to it.