Pardon my pessimism. After all, this may be more doom-and-gloom than the situation warrants.
But I doubt it.
I sit here, having returned to my home state after 23 years away, to find that my childhood favorite team is probably going to be moved out of the city within 5 years.
It's not because of idiotic business practices or because of demands the city can't (or isn't willing to) answer.
It's because the players on the team no longer have the same standards as the part of the community affluent enough to support that team.
In the long run, for those players this is just a place to stop off. They don't care that they are in a very conservative city in a conservative part of the country. It's probably true that most of them would really rather the team was in Las Vegas, anyway.
As I listened to the radio last night, caller after caller talked about the Pacers being a joke and that they really didn't care if the team was here or not. It's hard to believe this is the same city that rallied to save the team in 1977 and years later packed Market Square Arena to cheer the Simons' purchase.
Now, we're looking at a next generation of Simons who have publicly stated they have little interest in owning a basketball team, an actively hostile "fan" base, and an antagonistic local and national media. If this isn't a formula for moving a 40-year-old franchise to another city, I don't know what is.
I may not be happy with what the players are doing, I may not be happy with management moves, but the Pacers are now and have been my team for as long as they've been around. Should they become the Las Vegas Pacers (ok, after the ref scandal it'll probably be the Oklahoma City Pacers - chew on THAT, urban culture fans), I'll have lost a significant part of my childhood and my state.
Sure, on the level of urban problems like starvation, homelessness, and teen pregnancy this isn't even a blip. But sometimes solving these things requires a certain municipal sense of self, a confidence that comes from having arts and sports and other major leisure and cultural achievements. Where will we be when the cycle rolls around and the Colts stink again?
There is little current management can do other than ride it out and hope that things begin to go their way. Long suspensions on arrest simply are neither fair nor contractual. Dumping all players with known problems for players with publicly spotless records isn't an option - anyone who thinks this fan base would support a bunch of nice guy losers any more strongly is fooling themselves. We had nice guy losers once - and curtains around Market Square Arena. Given the attitude of many professional players, new blood wouldn't guarantee a lack of problems anyway.
I'm not sure I see a solution other than some kind of miracle NBA championship that is about as likely as NASCAR drivers defecting en masse to the IRL.
Waiting is hard.