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Thread: IBJ: A "real" sports town wouldn't abandon the Pacers

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    Default IBJ: A "real" sports town wouldn't abandon the Pacers

    Here is the Benner's article referenced in Peck's thread about the attendance problem.


    http://www.ibj.com/html/detail_page.asp?content=12223

    SPORTS: In defense of the indefensible blue and gold
    Sat. March 08 - 2008
    Bill Benner
    Special to IBJ


    Yes, I’m writing about the Indiana Pacers.

    Their struggles—and, yes, the scrapes with the law and bad judgment exercised by a few—have exposed an ugly underbelly that says as much about us as it does about them.

    It’s a cautionary tale for those riding-high Indianapolis Colts because (1) Peyton Manning won’t play forever, (2) Tony Dungy won’t coach forever, (3) Bill Polian won’t be the decision-maker forever, and (4) the law of legal averages eventually will catch up to any group of young men making lots of money and spending much of their lives in the fast lane.

    In other words, enjoy it while it lasts.

    As I’ve stated in this space before, it wasn’t that long ago that the Pacers could do no wrong and the Colts were the ugly stepchild.

    The month of May meant more than the run-up to the Indy 500. It meant extended playoff runs; Reg-gie, Reg-gie, Reg-gie; and sold-out, sore-throated crowds at Market Square Arena and then Conseco Fieldhouse.

    Pacers gear flew off the shelves and all the flags that flew from cars were adorned in blue and gold.

    Oh, and Larry Bird was a shrewd hero, not a dumb goat.

    The Colts? They just couldn’t get it right, except for that 1995 playoff burst engineered by Jim Harbaugh. Coaches and general managers came and went. And there was enough dirty laundry (does anyone remember Steve Muhammed?) to keep the non-sports media salivating at the prospect of rich athletes gone bad!!

    When it came to support, they couldn’t sell out the smallest stadium in the NFL.

    Of course, we all know the rest of the story. Jim Irsay became the owner. Irsay begot Polian, who begot Manning and Dungy. The rest of the pieces fell into place.

    The Colts’ ascension coincided with the Pacers’ decline, which became a fall off a cliff on that November night in Auburn Hills, Mich. Ain’t been the same, since.

    Please, do not misconstrue my thoughts about the Pacers. Many of their wounds have been self-inflicted. Yet others also have been circumstantial and, in some instances, things over which they had zero control, starting with an idiot throwing a beer cup.

    Still, it’s a high-profile, high-stakes enterprise where, as I’ve written many times, the bottom line is the one that goes on the scoreboard.

    What frankly irritates the heck out of me is the abandonment of this franchise and the constant pummeling it takes—some of it racially tinged—from folks who simply don’t have a clue about the complexities of running an NBA franchise.

    And some perspective, please. All the Pacers are not thugs (the racist’s favorite code word). For the record, they have 15 players on their roster. Three—Jamal Tinsley, Marquis Daniels and Shawne Williams—have had both serious legal and judgment issues. A fourth, David Harrison, was suspended after testing positive for marijuana (a test the Pacers, by league rule, couldn’t be notified about until he failed it for a third time). Oh, and the two clowns the public demanded be traded—Ron Artest and Stephen Jackson—were.

    In the meantime, the Pacers team has struggled on the floor, largely because it is missing two-fifths of its starting lineup to injuries. Offensively, they’re darn fun to watch, but their defense is a constant liability and their inability to close out games has been a killer.

    Attendance is last in the league. Last. So much for Indianapolis portraying itself as a great sports town. It’s certainly not a great pro sports town. It’s a fair-weather town where the bandwagon quickly empties. Don’t think it won’t happen to the Colts the first time they slip below .500 and have a couple of off-field incidents. And that’s not a question of if that will happen, but when.

    The Simons saved the Pacer franchise when it was nothing. Without them, there is no Reg-gie, Reg-gie, Reg-gie. Donnie Walsh made it into one of the NBA’s finest, regardless of market size. Larry Bird coached its finest NBA moment and now has taken on the task of trying to restore its glory. You think he’s doing it for the money? Please. He’s doing it because he’s one of us and because he’s a competitor. Yet he gets trashed as a bumpkin who doesn’t demand accountability. Nonsense.

    Yes, a few knuckleheads have run them through the muck. Yes, some personnel decisions have blown up in their faces.

    But a real pro sports town wouldn’t give up on them like Indy has. If nothing else, fans would show up just to boo ’em.

    Mark my words, these times shall pass for the Pacers and, yes, for the Colts. •

    Benner is associate director of communications for the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association and a former sports columnist for The Indianapolis Star. His column appears weekly. Listen to his column via podcast at www.ibj.com. To comment on this column, send e-mail to bbenner@ibj.com. Benner also has a blog, www.indyinsights.com.
    Last edited by Putnam; 03-11-2008 at 11:39 AM.
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    It is ka Thankee sai Major Cold's Avatar
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    Default Re: IBJ: A "real" sports town wouldn't abandon the Pacers

    I believe the Pacers need their fans more than the fans need their Pacers. As soon as the Colts well runs dry (if the well is capable of drying) what will we have?

    And if anyone says the Purdue Boilermakers I am going to puke?

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    100 Miles from the B count55's Avatar
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    Default Re: IBJ: A "real" sports town wouldn't abandon the Pacers

    If you can get past the wagging finger, there are some valid points.

    However, I suspect very few are going to get past the wagging finger.

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    100 Miles from the B count55's Avatar
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    Default Re: IBJ: A "real" sports town wouldn't abandon the Pacers

    Oh, but the "real sports town" comment is bogus.

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    Default Re: IBJ: A "real" sports town wouldn't abandon the Pacers

    I know everyone is going to blast him for daring to expect fans to support the team, but there is a MASSIVE KEY here...

    2003 Manning, Harrison, Dungy and Edge called, they wanted to talk about some blacked out games issues.

    And that, friends, is why I never, ever want to here it in support of the fanbase. They already choked, many times over. They couldn't fill it up to watch Reggie till AFTER a couple of ECF runs, they couldn't keep 5000 Titans fans out of a HOME PLAYOFF GAME, again featuring Manning.

    The fact that they would bail on a losing Pacers team isn't surprising in the least. Is it worse because of incidents, sure, but don't kid yourself into thinking that if it was Reggie, Dale and Jax out there winning 30 that you wouldn't have empty seats....because it's already happened. It's not theory, it's history.

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    Default Re: IBJ: A "real" sports town wouldn't abandon the Pacers

    Quote Originally Posted by Naptown_Seth View Post
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    I know everyone is going to blast him for daring to expect fans to support the team, but there is a MASSIVE KEY here...

    2003 Manning, Harrison, Dungy and Edge called, they wanted to talk about some blacked out games issues.

    And that, friends, is why I never, ever want to here it in support of the fanbase. They already choked, many times over. They couldn't fill it up to watch Reggie till AFTER a couple of ECF runs, they couldn't keep 5000 Titans fans out of a HOME PLAYOFF GAME, again featuring Manning.

    The fact that they would bail on a losing Pacers team isn't surprising in the least. Is it worse because of incidents, sure, but don't kid yourself into thinking that if it was Reggie, Dale and Jax out there winning 30 that you wouldn't have empty seats....because it's already happened. It's not theory, it's history.

    Excellent post!!!

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    Default Re: IBJ: A "real" sports town wouldn't abandon the Pacers

    Rip me all you'd like, but for what it's worth this is pretty much exactly what I've been saying for the bulk of this season. Especially the part about a few members of the team dragging the rest of the team through the muck. I still think this city would follow these guys ("thugs" and all) if we were winning. I might be wrong, but I really do believe that. On a related note, I really don't like the word thug. Granted, I have used it from time to time, but I really don't like it.
    Passion. Pride. Patience. Pacers

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    Default Re: IBJ: A "real" sports town wouldn't abandon the Pacers

    Pacers attendance isn't far off of philly, who has triple the population to help fill seats.

    That said, I dare anyone to go to a bar off of Broad Street in Philly and shout "PHILADELPHIA ISN'T A REAL SPORTS TOWN!"

    “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” - Winston Churchill

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    Administrator Peck's Avatar
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    Default Re: IBJ: A "real" sports town wouldn't abandon the Pacers

    Down below where it lists his accomplishments and current goings on it needs to also say.

    Bill Benner brother to current Pacers Public Relations Person David Benner.

    That does not make his message change one way or the other, if you think he's right he's still right or if you think he's wrong he's still wrong. But in the interest of disclosure anytime he writes about the Pacers this needs to be stated.

    As to his points of view. I'm torn.

    IMO, there is nothing wrong and I mean nothing wrong with the fans punishing the team for it's direction. Please, show up to boo c'mon.

    If that occured belive me we would have post after post after post on here telling us all how wrong that was.

    Also management would be under zero pressure make changes. Oh sure they would like for people to come and cheer but they can console themselves with the revenue from the sold out seats.

    However right now from every single solitary member of management up to the owner himself we have heard that they know they have to make immediate changes.

    Do you think we would be getting this response if the fieldhouse was selling at least 15,000 seats a night? You would like to think yes but I think if we are being honest with ourselves we would all say no.

    So on the one hand, IMO, the fans saying "No more" is a good thing.

    Now on the other hand not supporting the team just because they are not winning this year is a bad thing. Teams will go up and down in the standing that is a given.

    However contrary to what some people on here want you to believe, this fan revolt is not purely about wins/losses.

    Would there be more people in the stands if they were winning at a 50 pace and favored in the East? You bet. But it probably wouldn't be sold out and the support around town would be soft at best.

    So in summery, go Pacers

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    Default Re: IBJ: A "real" sports town wouldn't abandon the Pacers

    I agree wholeheartedly with both the author of this article and Naptown Seth.

    If the Pacers or the Colts leave town due to a lack of support, I won't support Indianapolis sports anymore. It absolutely sickens me to see friends, even members of my family decry the Pacers for sucking when only 7 or 8 years ago they were wearing Pacers gear and saying they would never root for the loser Colts. Now, they're all decked out in Colts gear.

    I love the Colts, own some Super Bowl gear, but the Pacers have and always will be my team. If the Pacers do come back and have success in Indy (I think eventually, at least hope, they will) I know that I'll grin a little bit every time I see ecstatic fans in their Granger jerseys screaming their hearts out in the Fieldhouse, wondering where those fans were 5-10 years ago when we were all here dissecting a 12 point loss to some mediocre team like the Bulls, wondering if the Pacers would would ever return to greatness.

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    Tree People to the Core! indygeezer's Avatar
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    Default Re: IBJ: A "real" sports town wouldn't abandon the Pacers

    Quote Originally Posted by Naptown_Seth View Post
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    I know everyone is going to blast him for daring to expect fans to support the team, but there is a MASSIVE KEY here...

    2003 Manning, Harrison, Dungy and Edge called, they wanted to talk about some blacked out games issues.

    And that, friends, is why I never, ever want to here it in support of the fanbase. They already choked, many times over. They couldn't fill it up to watch Reggie till AFTER a couple of ECF runs, they couldn't keep 5000 Titans fans out of a HOME PLAYOFF GAME, again featuring Manning.

    The fact that they would bail on a losing Pacers team isn't surprising in the least. Is it worse because of incidents, sure, but don't kid yourself into thinking that if it was Reggie, Dale and Jax out there winning 30 that you wouldn't have empty seats....because it's already happened. It's not theory, it's history.
    So is the legal trouble, the losses, the image of youngsters straight out of high school making more money than my family combined will earn in 3 lifetimes, so is the loss of jobs at

    Ft Ben
    Ford
    GM
    Chrysler Foundry
    Western Electric (long ago admitedly)
    Jenn-Aire

    plus now the insecurity of those that do have jobs. It is a perfect storm of facts that have led to this. But to blame it on the "fickleness" of the average fan earns a great big FU from Indygeezer. I have the right to determine where my entertainment dollars go. I do not pay my money to see a bad movie just because Sandra Bullock is in it, and I will not allow anybody to degrenate me because I don't choose to spend my money supporting something that has become so detached from what I value. I AM spending money to go see good basketball at Hinkle tonight. That is a value judgement, I get more entertainment for my dollars there.
    So for some HACK to write that I owe it to the Pacers to spend my few entertainment bucks on them is extremely hypocritical IMPO. The author, afterall is hardly impartial....his brother is associated with the Pacers PR department.

    EDIT: I agree with Peck 100%. I will always love the Pacers but I make value judgements too.
    Last edited by indygeezer; 03-11-2008 at 12:08 PM. Reason: CYA
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    Default Re: IBJ: A "real" sports town wouldn't abandon the Pacers

    I agree with Bill Benner 100%.

    A couple of weeks ago when I suggested maybe the Simons would want to sell the team and if they did sell it - surely the Pacers would leave Indianapolis - many of you scoffed at me, then we read what Vecsey wrote over the weekend.

    But let me now make another point that I have made before, Indianapolis is a horrible NBA city. 1994 through 2000 was the exception to the rule - that is not the norm here. The norm is a lot closer to what is happening now. Indianapolis likes college, and high school ball - that is what I have heard my whole life and that is what I firmly believe.
    Last edited by Unclebuck; 03-11-2008 at 12:11 PM.

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    Default Re: IBJ: A "real" sports town wouldn't abandon the Pacers

    Quote Originally Posted by indygeezer View Post
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    So is the legal trouble, the losses, the image of youngsters straight out of high school making more money than my family combined will earn in 3 lifetimes, so is the loss of jobs at

    Ft Ben
    Ford
    GM
    Chrysler Foundry
    Western Electric (long ago admitedly)
    Jenn-Aire

    plus now the insecurity of those that do have jobs. It is a perfect storm of facts that have led to this. But to blame it on the "fickleness" of the average fan earns a great big FU from Indygeezer. I have the right to determine where my entertainment dollars go. I do not pay my money to see a bad movie just because Sandra Bullock is in it, and I will not allow anybody to degrenate me because I don't choose to spend my money supporting something that has become so detached from what I value. I AM spending money to go see good basketball at Hinkle tonight. That is a value judgement, I get more entertainment for my dollars there.
    So for some HACK to write that I owe it to the Pacers to spend my few entertainment bucks on them is extremely hypocritical IMPO. The author, afterall is hardly impartial....his brother is associated with the Pacers PR department.
    For me it's not so much attending the games, at least, not working class people doing so.

    Many people I know can afford seats in the lower bowl and canceled their season tickets never worked at Ford, their jobs at Ice Miller aren't in jeopardy. They've just simple started supporting the Colts exclusively when at one time they were doing the same with the Pacers. It's fickleness IMHO. Whatever happened with sticking with something through thick and thing? If there is an economic necessity that comes about, okay (I don't really see that accounting for too much), but if you've got the money to keep going to games, how can you just turn on something you once professed support for so strongly?

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    Default Re: IBJ: A "real" sports town wouldn't abandon the Pacers

    Quote Originally Posted by dcpacersfan View Post
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    I agree wholeheartedly with both the author of this article and Naptown Seth.

    If the Pacers or the Colts leave town due to a lack of support, I won't support Indianapolis sports anymore. It absolutely sickens me to see friends, even members of my family decry the Pacers for sucking when only 7 or 8 years ago they were wearing Pacers gear and saying they would never root for the loser Colts. Now, they're all decked out in Colts gear.

    I love the Colts, own some Super Bowl gear, but the Pacers have and always will be my team. If the Pacers do come back and have success in Indy (I think eventually, at least hope, they will) I know that I'll grin a little bit every time I see ecstatic fans in their Granger jerseys screaming their hearts out in the Fieldhouse, wondering where those fans were 5-10 years ago when we were all here dissecting a 12 point loss to some mediocre team like the Bulls, wondering if the Pacers would would ever return to greatness.
    I say this all the time. I look forward to Conseco selling out again, but a part of me will be kind of p*ssed when I see this actually happen. If that makes any sense.
    Passion. Pride. Patience. Pacers

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    Administrator Peck's Avatar
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    Default Re: IBJ: A "real" sports town wouldn't abandon the Pacers

    Quote Originally Posted by dcpacersfan View Post
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    For me it's not so much attending the games, at least, not working class people doing so.

    Many people I know can afford seats in the lower bowl and canceled their season tickets never worked at Ford, their jobs at Ice Miller aren't in jeopardy. They've just simple started supporting the Colts exclusively when at one time they were doing the same with the Pacers. It's fickleness IMHO. Whatever happened with sticking with something through thick and thing? If there is an economic necessity that comes about, okay (I don't really see that accounting for too much), but if you've got the money to keep going to games, how can you just turn on something you once professed support for so strongly?
    Without a doubt there is a lot of that. As U.B. stated, this town really is not a good NBA town. Growing up it was always I.U. first last and always then somewhere in there you had the Reds and the Cubs (remember this is back before the Colts)

    But I'm telling you guys and I know very few of you want to believe me, there are certain members of this area that are punishing the team for what they consider being co-conspiritors in the character department.

    Yes, I know people who are not going to the games because they feel that the owners and the team did not take any kind of responsibility for Artest till after the atom bomb was dropped.

    I want to also float out there an unsustantiated rumor that I have heard from several people. I want this to be known right up front I have only heard rumors of this (although from more than one source) so take this with a bag of salt.

    You know how it is being said that Jackson was traded because the boo's in the fieldhouse? I was told that one of the major reasons this went down was because two very large coperate donors (think local pharmacutical giant and large law firm) threatened to pull all sponsorship, including suites, from the Pacers until he was gone.

    I've known this for a long time but for some reason I just felt like this was the thread that I had to say it.

    Again though, these are rumors only. No facts, no names. For all I know it is total poppycock. However one of the people who said this to me has been dead right about anything he has ever told me regarding the Pacers.

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    Tree People to the Core! indygeezer's Avatar
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    Default Re: IBJ: A "real" sports town wouldn't abandon the Pacers

    Quote Originally Posted by dcpacersfan View Post
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    For me it's not so much attending the games, at least, not working class people doing so.

    Many people I know can afford seats in the lower bowl and canceled their season tickets never worked at Ford, their jobs at Ice Miller aren't in jeopardy. They've just simple started supporting the Colts exclusively when at one time they were doing the same with the Pacers. It's fickleness IMHO. Whatever happened with sticking with something through thick and thing? If there is an economic necessity that comes about, okay (I don't really see that accounting for too much), but if you've got the money to keep going to games, how can you just turn on something you once professed support for so strongly?
    Thick and thin is one thing but thick and thin and the Police blotter is a different horse. As to the friends supporting the Colts now. Meh, there are always the bandwagoners in every sport. Unfortunately in a small market the number of bandwagon jumpers can make a HUGE impact on the overall count.
    And....I do not take lightly what Grace said about much larger markets having attendence problems too, there is much validity to the fact that the Phillys and the New Yorks have much larger population bases to draw upon and at least the 6ers are not that much ahead of us in total attendence.

    EDIT....For the average fan...how many times must they see the team they support drag the name of the team and city thru the mud before they are ALLOWED to say ENOUGH!! ???
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    Administrator Unclebuck's Avatar
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    Default Re: IBJ: A "real" sports town wouldn't abandon the Pacers

    Peck, I wonder if the law firm and Pharma co is doing the same now about Tinsley. Really though I would think it is a dangerous precedent for the pacers to set - trading players based upon what the sponsors want - indirectly sure, but I doubt it was as direct as that

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    Default Re: IBJ: A "real" sports town wouldn't abandon the Pacers

    If corporate sponsors are that fickle, then I think it is quite fair to say that Indy is not a real sports town. Corporate and fan support play a large role in a city's rep as good sport sports, IMHO, and that's the worst thing corporate supporters could do.

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    Default Re: IBJ: A "real" sports town wouldn't abandon the Pacers

    I support them no matter what, to be honest, that doesn't mean I have to say yeah, woohoo lollipops and puppy dogs, they are awesome.

    They suck right now, you can paint it however you want.

    You can say whatever reason you think. Not only do they suck but there is very little to be hopeful about (echoing many the last few months on here)

    Thats the double whammy.

    I'm going to watch them beat, maybe a tired, young Seattle team tonight as I watched them get dusted the last many games.

    Honestly, the whole thing doesn't effect being a fan, I've been a fan my whole life, why stop now.

    It's like Gary Bracket was once quoted after a season ending loss. After all I've been through why would I give up now. (I know, too dramatic, but the same idea)

    Now do I think I live in a loser town (Indy) because the lady in front of me isn't a fan of a bad team, heck no, what do I care. Its the nature of it everywhere. Colts are the same way like Benner said, except now they have a banner to hang there hat on, and the start of a whole generation that have never not known the Colts not being here and even a younger generation that doesn't know what a non Manning Colts team looks like. Those are some serious building blocks.

    I agree with Benner in that its cyclical, I mean it just is.

    The ONLY thing that worries me is that they start hemmoraging money so bad that they move, THAT is the only thing that matters to me.

    So its a race, have "the good" cycle come back around before Indy is at risk of losing the team.

    Honestly, that is all I care about.

    Lastly, I know Vescey said whatever, but I don't think its right. So I guess we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

    If the Simons do sell after such a short down tick, that would trouble me anyway.

    So I guess we'll see, but I'm not going to feel guilty like the town doesn't deserve the team, that is ridiculous to me.

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    Tree People to the Core! indygeezer's Avatar
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    Default Re: IBJ: A "real" sports town wouldn't abandon the Pacers

    Quote Originally Posted by dcpacersfan View Post
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    If corporate sponsors are that fickle, then I think it is quite fair to say that Indy is not a real sports town. Corporate and fan support play a large role in a city's rep as good sport sports, IMHO, and that's the worst thing corporate supporters could do.
    Having been a 40 year employee at one of those places (no, I'm NOT Peck's "mole") I can tell you that image is everything to that company and it would not suprise me...scratch that....It would completely suprise me if they DIDN'T make that demand. Remember this is the company I have seen fire a guy that had a party at his home raided. Then when the Star mentioned that he worked at this company he was fired immediatley...no second chance...gone within minutes of arriving at work, and escorted out by security.
    Last edited by indygeezer; 03-11-2008 at 12:46 PM.
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    Default Re: IBJ: A "real" sports town wouldn't abandon the Pacers

    Quote Originally Posted by indygeezer View Post
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    I have the right to determine where my entertainment dollars go. I do not pay my money to see a bad movie just because Sandra Bullock is in it, and I will not allow anybody to denigrate me because I don't choose to spend my money supporting something that has become so detached from what I value. I AM spending money to go see good basketball at Hinkle tonight. That is a value judgement, I get more entertainment for my dollars there.

    So for some HACK to write that I owe it to the Pacers to spend my few entertainment bucks on them is extremely hypocritical IMPO.





    Go, geezer.






    (But you're mistaken about the effect of the plant closings you listed. Those jobs have been replaced with better ones 2-3 times over. Indianapolis has more disposable income now than ever before, both absolutely and proportionately.)
    Last edited by Putnam; 03-11-2008 at 12:46 PM.
    And I won't be here to see the day
    It all dries up and blows away
    I'd hang around just to see
    But they never had much use for me
    In Levelland. (James McMurtry)

  22. #22
    Member Speed's Avatar
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    Default Re: IBJ: A "real" sports town wouldn't abandon the Pacers

    Quote Originally Posted by Unclebuck View Post
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    Peck, I wonder if the law firm and Pharma co is doing the same now about Tinsley. Really though I would think it is a dangerous precedent for the pacers to set - trading players based upon what the sponsors want - indirectly sure, but I doubt it was as direct as that

    Its there perrogative though. I mean its show business not show friends. I would completely understand a request like this.

  23. #23
    Member Dr. Goldfoot's Avatar
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    Default Re: IBJ: A "real" sports town wouldn't abandon the Pacers

    I've said it before and I'll say it again.......Fair-weather Fans.

  24. #24

    Default Re: IBJ: A "real" sports town wouldn't abandon the Pacers

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Goldfoot View Post
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    I've said it before and I'll say it again.......Fair-weather Fans.


    I dare you to say that again!!!!
    And I won't be here to see the day
    It all dries up and blows away
    I'd hang around just to see
    But they never had much use for me
    In Levelland. (James McMurtry)

  25. #25

    Default Re: IBJ: A "real" sports town wouldn't abandon the Pacers

    I haven't been to a Pacer game in 3 years. But I haven't
    'abandoned' them either. I watch some of nearly every
    game on TV. If I didn't give a *****, I wouldn't bother
    watching.

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