The Pacers will host Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the Knicks Saturday, and Pacers Sports & Entertainment Senior VP and Chief Sales & Marketing Officer Todd Taylor said that the contest will "be a 'gold out' and sold out," according to Anthony Schoettle of the INDIANAPOLIS BUSINESS JOURNAL. Taylor said phone operators were "really busy" Tuesday dealing with ticket requests and called this the "best excitement I’ve seen in the market since I’ve been here." Schoettle noted the Pacers since Tuesday in addition to "selling a slew of game three tickets" have "sold 50 new season ticket packages for next year." Game 4 in the series also is "on its way to selling out." The Pacers "sold out all three first-round home playoff games against Atlanta, but there were between 1,000 and 1,500 empty seats for each of those games." The "strong playoff ticket sales come on the heels of a 7.7 percent regular season attendance increase this year over last year." The Pacers this year "averaged 15,269 for 41 home games, compared to 14,168 for 33 home games during last year’s lockout-shortened season." The franchise "jumped from 29th of 30 NBA teams in attendance last season, to 25th this year." Taylor: "The community is enthusiastic about this team right now, and we’re still gaining momentum. Now we need to convert our fans into more season-ticket buyers. That’s our goal" (IBJ.com, 5/8).
PACERS MADE BLUEPRINT FOR KINGS: In Sacramento, Ailene Voisin writes with the Kings' future uncertain, Pacers fans "could write the textbook on how stubborn, small-market communities overcome the odds, fight off threats of extinction and relocation, and attract a billionaire owner and partner on an 18,000-seat downtown fieldhouse that is part shrine, part museum." When people enter Bankers Life Fieldhouse for the first time, they "don't know whether to bow or bless" themselves. Voisin: "Mostly, you stand and stare, amazed and admiring" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/10). Voisin added there is "no basketball facility that remotely compares with the authenticity of the Hoosiers-themed Bankers Life Fieldhouse." The arena seats just over 18,000 and "actually feels like a place built for basketball" (SACBEE.com, 5/9).
Heat Owner Micky Arison has acknowledged that the NBA Relocation Committee recommended against moving the Kings to Seattle because the Sacramento group bidding for the team did "everything necessary" to keep it, according to Kasler, Bizjak & Lillis of the SACRAMENTO BEE. Arison, who is on the committee, made the comments in a "Twitter exchange with a Seattle fan." He suggested that the committee's 7-0 vote "amounted to a referendum on Sacramento, not a rejection of Seattle." He said the committee's vote came down to whether Sacramento has "done all it should to keep the team," and the "answer is yes." However, Kasler, Bizjak & Lillis note Arison did criticize Seattle's failed attempt to keep the Sonics in '08, and it "extended to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer." Arison said Ballmer "never stepped up" when the Sonics were leaving. Arison is the "only member of the relocation committee to explain his vote," and the league had no comment on his tweets. Arison's comments were made "a week ago in a series of private 'direct messages' to a Seattle fan identified as Danny." Seattle-based KJR-AM on Thursday "posted the dialogue on its website" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/10).
TRYING TO GET IT DONE: In Seattle, Nick Eaton reported R.E. Graswich, a Special Assistant to Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, on Thursday noted on his Twitter feed that the NBA has "'told' the Maloofs to take the Sacramento offer to buy the Kings." It appears the NBA may be "trying to resolve the Kings controversy behind closed doors." The league through the relocation committee vote has told Ballmer and Chris Hansen that "relocation is unlikely," while Johnson has suggested that Ballmer and Hansen "walk away" from the deal. The NBA meanwhile is "reportedly pushing the Maloofs to back out of the Seattle deal." Eaton: "Why? Because the NBA likely can’t block the Maloofs’ sale of the Kings to Seattle" (SEATTLEPI.com, 5/9).
CFL Edmonton Eskimos President & CEO Len Rhodes said that the team's consolidated net profit for the '12 calendar year was less than half as much as in '11 "due to structural changes made in the past year," according to Chris O'Leary of the EDMONTON JOURNAL. The team had a profit last year of C$207,060, down from C$473,471. The club did not host a playoff game, as it did in '11, but "transition costs -- including the departure of GM Eric Tillman in November and two other senior executives, as well as outgoing president Rick LeLacheur -- were a factor." Also, gameday costs "came out of the net profit." Rhodes said, “We are not-for-profit, but we can generate more dollars at the bottom line. It’s about re-investing in football operations and putting it right back in the community as well." O'Leary noted Rhodes "knows a winning team often means the bottom line is a winner, too." Rhodes said, “Putting a competitive club on the field is what’s going to sell tickets and we recognize that." He added that fans this season will "enjoy new seats at Commonwealth Stadium sooner than expected." Rhodes: "The weather delayed things to get started this year, but the lower bowl will be about 95 per cent complete by the pre-season game (June 14 against the Saskatchewan Roughriders) and the upper bowl is destined to be done by the end of September. ... I want more fans in the seats and the rest will come." The Eskimos averaged a league-high 33,975 fans last season, but Rhodes said he wants 40,000 fans "for every single game" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 5/8).
THEY CALL ME THE WAND-ERER: The CFL Winnipeg Blue Bombers will use security wands as the "primary screening device at Investors Group Field" this season. The team last season "got flack for increasing the frequency and length of manual searches and not allowing outside food or drink." Authorities will "continue to do pat-downs if the security wand turns up anything suspicious." Meanwhile, fans will now be allowed to "bring in one, one-litre or smaller empty bottle, and fill it up at water fountains inside the stadium." Single-serving snacks, "like a chocolate bar or vegetables will be allowed, but no more" (WINNIPEG SUN, 5/9).
Suns GM Ryan McDonough was officially introduced Thursday, and Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby said, "He's prepared for this all his life, I think. We couldn't be more thrilled or more excited." McDonough's "league-wide respect was generated during a 10-year rise from video guy to assistant GM with the Boston Celtics," and he "seems to have sufficient analytical chops and in-person scouting tenacity to satisfy all would-be critics." McDonough: "I wasn’t going to leave unless it was a fantastic opportunity. I feel like this is that opportunity" (FOXSPORTSARIZONA.com, 5/9).
PRICE CUT: In Boston, Callum Borchers notes the "average price to see" a first-round Bruins Stanley Cup Playoff game at TD Garden is "$236.12 on the secondary ticket market." That is 5% "lower than prices commanded two years ago" when the Bruins won the Stanley Cup. Data from TiqIQ shows during last year's playoffs, "when the team attempted to defend its title, prices were down" by 10%. The decline "suggests a psychological shift among fans of a championship-starved sports franchise." The pursuit of "a long-awaited prize -- and the hope that this is the year -- may be more compelling than the quest to win it all again" (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/10).
POLICY CHANGE: In DC, Rick Snider writes "only a public relations fiasco forced" the Nationals to change their ticket exchange policy for rescheduled games and "not some change of heart by officials." The Nationals "get no points for the reversal because it was poor judgment to start." The team "needed to return to their old policy," as it "can't afford to burn customers." Crowds at Nationals Park are "growing for now, but angering fans risks long-term ramifications." Any "time clouds gather, fans would have been reluctant to buy tickets for fear of being burned" (WASHINGTON EXAMINER, 5/10).
GETTING TECHNICAL: INFORMATION WEEK's Jonathan Feldman noted MLB Giants Senior VP & CIO Bill Schlough "gives a lot of credit" to team President & CEO Larry Baer for "setting the tone of the organization." But it also is "pretty obvious, to hear Schlough talk, that he sets a great tone for his employees." Not only does Schlough "wear a World Series championship ring, but also, the intern at the time got a ring." The Giants' IT team "lives and breathes baseball." Schlough: "Our whole office walked in the parade, got on floats in the parade. It's a mindset that permeates from the top" (INFORMATIONWEEK.com, 5/9).