Indiana Pacers co-owner Herb Simon stressed Tuesday that he wants to keep his team in Indianapolis but was equally adamant that he can no longer afford the operating expenses at Conseco Fieldhouse or the team's year-after-year financial losses. Simon said the Pacers have lost money nine of the past 10 years, including the year the Pacers played in the NBA finals. (Forbes.com offers a different financial picture; see the graphic at left.) Jim Morris, president of Pacers Sports & Entertainment, said the team has lost $200 million total since Simon bought it in 1983.
Under the agreement, the Pacers agreed to operate the fieldhouse, which is costing the team about $15 million a year. Simon said he did not want to negotiate in public, but it's clear, based on what CIB officials have said, that neither side thinks the team can continue to pay that much.
Simon avoided making threats to leave town and said he has not spoken to other cities that might be interested in the team. But, he stressed, "It's very important we resolve this in the near future. Very important."
And it's not just the Pacers that Simon is concerned about. The fate of the Indiana Fever seems tenuous at best. 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.